Friday, January 30, 2009

Tetzlaff and Andsnes at Herbst Theatre

Thanks to the fine cultural journalist Janos Gereben (click here), I was invited to the Herbst Theatre on Tuesday evening for a joint recital by a pair of European classical superstars, Christian Tetzlaff on violin and Leif Ove Andsnes on piano.

The two played flawlessly together and the concert was quite enjoyable, but I have a suggestion for them and any other classical music organization. Don't start a concert with music by Leos Janacek because everything that comes after it, no matter how good, is going to sound like weak beer indeed.

The early 20th century Czech composer is mostly known for his short, intense operas such as "Jenufa," "Katya Kabanova," "The Cunning Little Vixen," and "From The House of the Dead" (which I would love to see in the opera house someday) and he's utterly original. Though his music is not to everyone's taste, I can't hear it live often enough, so the four-movement Sonata for Violin and Piano was a complete treat.

Poor Brahms and Mozart afterwards sounded beautiful and dull in comparison, though the Schubert "Rondo Brilliant in B Minor" picked up the pace for the finale, and a couple of Sibelius encores were fun and bizarrely cheerful for that often gloomy composer.


Anonymous said...

I didn't get to that concert but Tetzlaff and Andsnes have recorded the Janàcek Sonata and I listened to it this morning. Yup, a fine piece, though (as I generally feel about his music) he has a kind of constitutional aversion to hummable tunes. "Leave the hall whistling the main theme, will you? We'll see about that." Good music, though.

Civic Center said...

Dear rootlesscosmo: Actually, Janacek does have a lot of hummable tunes, it just takes a number of listenings to get them rooted in your brain. It's possibly because he's got so many tunes jammed together and compressed, but once one of his pieces does get lodged in your memory, it's just the best. In that way, he's a lot like Benjamin Britten, who people tend to either adore or despise without much leeway in between.