Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NSO - All-Beethoven - 10/09/10

Conductor: Christoph Eschenbach
Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61 - Christian Tetzlaff

I am a strong believer that timing is everything, and therefore careful planning is paramount to make the most of life. Then, of course, you have to deal with the unexpected. Although I was going to be in New York on Thursday and Friday evenings, I figured that I could still catch the National Symphony Orchestra and never-to-be-missed Christian Tetzlaff on Saturday evening. It did eventually happen, even if at times the carefully planned outing did not go, well, as planned.
Due to an unavoidable combination of family and work obligations I had missed Christian Tetzlaff last time he was in town, back in April, with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson-Thomas to perform Tchaikovsky's violin concerto. So I was dead set about hearing him this time, even if Beethoven's concerto does not rank as high in my personal chart as Tchaikovsky's. When a hectic Friday and very little sleep lately made me decide to go to the concert for the concerto but skip Bruckner's symphony No 6, things were still on track. But that was before I realized at 7:30 pm that some of the downtown metro stations were closed for scheduled track maintenance, a huge line had formed for the metro shuttle bus and I had no cash for a cab. Pushing aside any thoughts of just giving up and getting some much needed rest instead, I found an ATM machine, then a cab, and got to the Kennedy Center in time to bump into… my former German teacher and her husband! Small world.

After hearing Christian Tetzlaff masterfully handle Beethoven's violin concerto in Philadelphia a couple of years ago, I was very much looking forward to a repeat performance of it on Saturday. This particular work is a piece that I have learned to like, as opposed to getting swept up by it as soon as I heard the first notes, but now I like it a lot. I still think it does not unmistakably stand out compared to some other compositions in the remarkable German master's oeuvre, but the truth is that competition is pretty darn stiff in there. And if the score does not sparkle with virtuosic fireworks, it does give violinists plenty of opportunities to display their technical skills in a wide range of moods. Accordingly, our soloist for the evening showed that he had things under control from the start with finesse and ardor. Moreover, since the composer did not write any cadenza for it, Christian Tetzlaff played his own arrangements, including an engaging dialogue with the timpani. Eschenbach led the NSO in a solid performance and remained in tight tune with his soloist, bringing the audience to a standing ovation resounding all around the packed concert hall. On that triumphant note, I bailed out and eventually made it back home with the satisfied feeling of yet another mission accomplished.

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