Bonus post! Just wanted to dash off a quick concert recap, since I attended the BSO concert with Ingrid Fliter last Friday. See?
It was good. And as my dad always says, the excellent is the enemy of the good; I must confess that I was a trifle disappointed. Don’t get me wrong — everyone sounded beautiful, Ingrid Fliter played very nicely (although I preferred her brief encore to the Chopin concerto itself), it was all very nice. But there was no fire, no passion, no oomph. It was phoned in.
Look, guys, I can understand why. As my concert companion Rebekah pointed out, Chopin’s concertos often lack flow; the pianist does a bunch of fancy stuff, and then he’s all, oops! Better give the orchestra something to play. And then the other two pieces — William Tell and Tchaikovsky’s symphony no. 2 — those poor musicians have probably played a elevently jillion times before. And that’s not even a number! (Yet.)
To that I say: so what? Unfortunately, a blase approach simply cannot work with these two pieces. William Tell is something of a cliche, I will grant you that. It still makes me smile, but I will grant you that just the same. However, it is a piece that calls for raucous energy by its very nature, and the version I heard was controlled, almost tired.
As for the Tchaikovsky, it is called the “Little Russian” at least in part because of its roots in Russian folk tunes. Folk tunes — especially, I would even venture, eastern European ones — are raw chunks of emotion and spirit. This was not. This was beautifully played, yes, but strangely full of ennui. What I find extra funny is that for Tchaikovsky, it’s way less Tchaikovsky-y than usual. Shouldn’t that make the Tchaikovsky snobs feel better and more excited?
I don’t know. Maybe the guest conductor Hans Graf was confusing them or something, although I wasn’t bothered by the tempi or dynamics. Everyone has an off night, I suppose, but let that be a lesson to you — even if it’s the thousandth time you’re busting out Pachelbel at your second cousin’s wedding, make like your aunt just gave you an ugly sweater for Christmas and fake some joy here, people!