Saturday, January 11, 2020

concert review: Seattle Symphony

(Anybody still reading this: Seattle? Whut?)

The young, small, and bouncy Maxim Emelyanychev conducted two warhorses and a premiere in the pleasant precincts of Benaroya Hall.

The premiere was the suite from an opera Figaro Gets a Divorce by Elena Langer. No, it's not pastiche of Mozart (or Rossini), but it has some of the same verve and color, as well as a clarity of utterance not often heard in new music. Interesting stuff.

Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony came out raucous, like the Italian street music Michael Nyman used to write. Could those outrageous blares from the trumpets and horns be intentional? Had to be, since they kept recurring whenever the passage came back. (Emelyanychev took the first movement repeat, which hardly anyone ever does.) And he kept jabbing to produce emphatic sforzandos in the padding march of the Andante, as well.

Beethoven's Emperor Concerto was somewhat more restrained orchestrally, as is appropriate for, even in the fast music, it's a gentle and elegant work. The oddities came from Jean-Efflam Bavouzet at the keyboard. His sound was strangely unresonant and boxy, and he kept seeming to trip over himself all over his runs. Some nice stuff, though, in the "music box" second theme, and the transition to the finale.

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