Thursday, May 28, 2009

Schubert and Berg, Together At Last

Michael Tilson Thomas' annual three-week "Festival" with the San Francisco Symphony is devoted to two Viennese composers, Franz Schubert and Alban Berg, who span the forming of the Austrian Empire, the subsequent Austro-Hungarian Empire and the total dissolution of Austria and Vienna as a world power.

In an entertaining interview (click here) with the mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, who sang Berg's "Seven Early Songs," Cedric asked her:
You sang Schubert here with MTT, and now you're doing Berg, as part of the Schubert and Berg Journey. Do you see the connection?

It's hard to say. Obviously, MTT has some connection in mind, which is why he's doing it. I personally don't know what it is. I'm anxious to hear it and talk to him about it.

I believe the reason is that Tilson Thomas probably just loves the music of both composers, and Schubert is meant to balance out the harsh dissonances of Berg. The only problem is that I don't much care for the way Tilson Thomas conducts Schubert who has never been a favorite composer anyway. Though it would have been a harder sell, I wish he had just gone all the way and given a Second Viennese School Festival with Schoenberg and Webern in all their dissonant scariness.

Michelle DeYoung, looking like an Amazon and exuding energy to the rafters, was a thrilling, exquisite soloist. Though I'm not a big lieder fan, she had everyone convinced that what she was singing was of the utmost importance.

At intermission, I stumbled across The Blogger Table with the Opera Tattler in modified dirndl drag (click here), The Ambassador (click here), and Axel Feldheim (click here), all of whom have written about last night's concert using their Robert Louis Stevenson secret society pseudonyms.

The second half of the concert consisted of Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony and Berg's "Three Pieces for Orchestra" (Monster Orchestra above!), and we all basically agreed. The Schubert wasn't a success but the Berg was awesome.


John Marcher said...

Saving the best for last, which is RLS ssp- awesome, though unfortunate;y herr Feldheim is hiding behind me, which he no doubt planned in order to maintain his anonymity.

Interesting, to me, was the complete consensus on the Schubert pieces. A 2nd Viennese School Festival would be a great idea.

AphotoAday said...

Got a little chuckle out of that group:

"using their Robert Louis Stevenson secret society pseudonyms"

Sounds like the fun just never ends at the symphony...

(by the way, Mike, I finally visited Dougherty's sculptures for an up-close and personal evaluation -- I have a photo posted on my blog)

Axel Feldheim said...

I'm sure it was unintended, but that is funny where I ended up in that picture! From now on I will make it a point to be behind someone in all photos. I look much better this way.