Ruzicka, Poulenc, Schumann
I am not really sure how the Mozarteum Orchestra could follow this evening’s guest conductor, Peter Ruzicka from Hamburg, whose stick-wagging technique seemed to have little correlation to the music.
Actually, they really did not follow him. When they could ignore him, as during some of the larger passages in Schumann‘s Fourth Symphony, a standard in the repertory, the orchestra sounded its usual full self, with especially soaring brass chorales. But during more exposed portions, especially with tempo changes, the orchestra sounded a little lost.
The works before the intermission made it harder for the orchestra. Soloist Iveta Apkalna, from Latvia, gave a lyrical interpretation of Francis Poulenc‘s Organ Concerto. But there was often a disconnect with the string orchestra, who seemed determined to cut disruptively across her solos. Only the tympanist engaged her in the dialogue, and the passages with the two of them alone stood out as the highlight.
The concert had opened with a forgettable work by the conductor himself: his fantasy for strings, Into the Open. I’m not really sure what this was – I suppose it was a fantasy in that the violins provided unaccustomed high notes perhaps looking to escape from the Mozarteum’s Great Hall into another world. But mostly the strings just kept up with the violent cutting noises. Although I thought it was forgettable, in retrospect the orchestra may have remembered it long enough to disrupt the Poulenc.