Conductor: David Robertson
Mozart: Adagio in E Major, K. 261 – Christian Tetzlaff
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64 – Christian Tetzlaff
Schoenberg: Violin Concerto, Op. 36 – Christian Tetzlaff
The Met season may have ended, but that does not mean that its musical force can no longer be heard. As if covering an impressive range of operas seven times a week during its 33-week season were not enough, the unfaced (but definitely not unsung) heroes of New York City’s preeminent opera company keep on relentlessly playing and collaborating with prestigious conductors and soloists all over the world the rest of the time.
After consistently enjoying the MET orchestra’s impeccable work in their Lincoln Center home over the years, I thought that hearing - not to mention actually seeing - them at Carnegie Hall last Sunday in the company of über-talented Christian Tetzlaff for three incredibly different violin works would be a fabulous treat not only for myself, but also for my visiting mum. The US Mother’s Day was last weekend and the French Mother’s Day will be early June, so anywhere in between sounded like fair game for a memorable gift. Therefore, after indulging in the culinary arts in a frigid temperature at Petrossian (Their duck confit risotto was simply too divine for words), we went for a leisurely walk in Central Park to warm up, and then headed to Carnegie Hall to revel in the musical arts. Anything for maman!
It is hard to go wrong with an opening number by Mozart, and the short but all-around exquisite Adagio in E Major was no exception. Under the light but firm baton of David Robertson, who had just finished conducting them in Billy Budd, the orchestra sounded as fundamentally unified as ever, with Christian Tetzlaff fitting right in.
One of the most enduring classical music hits ever, Mendelssohn’s violin concerto was no doubt the big draw on the program, and rightfully so. From the shamelessly infectious opening notes on, Christian Tetzlaff was totally in control of his surgically precise, unswervingly vigorous and delightfully melodic performance. The orchestra kept pace without any fuss, respectfully supporting the soloist while making beautiful music on their own. The three movements were played without a pause, emphasizing how brilliantly intertwined the various sections are and how remarkably seamless the entire work is. As the connoisseur in the row before us authoritatively stated during the enthusiastic ovation: “Muy impressionante.”
After Mendelssohn’s intense luminosity, we moved on to Schoenberg’s intense, hmmm, obscurity. It is not that I mind terribly atonal experimentation, but I really wish the results sounded better than the seemingly discombobulating mess that was thrown upon us. Unsure of what it was saying or where it was going, I was hanging on for dear life while trying to find any hint of meaning, or even just coherence. Truth be told, I was not particularly successful. Luckily, Christian Tetzlaff’s impeccable technique and obvious dedication to the task at hand not only managed to make the experience bearable, but also occasionally (Gasp!) pleasant to the ears. Maestro Robertson kept things going as smoothly as possible and, as far as I could tell, not that many people fled the auditorium considering the circumstances.
Probably fearful that the applause would not last long, David Robertson quickly announced that our good behavior during the Schoenberg would be rewarded with... more Mozart. There is of course no question that after Schoenberg, any decent musical composition would sound like Mozart, but we got treated to the real thing indeed with an utterly delectable Rondo for violin and orchestra in C Major, which ended the concert on a purely hedonistic, charmingly whimsical note.