Chamber Music-Like Intimacy Even at Sold Out Venue

December 2, 2008
By
When noticing the scalpers and the people waiting to obtain last minute tickets, and especially after the concert, I felt extremely lucky to have been able to attend this concert. Prior to this concert, I had never been inside Carnegie Hall's Isaac Stern Auditorium / Ronald O. Perelman Stage. Although we sat very high up in our balcony seats, it was not an impediment to the wonderful acoustics. Carnegie Hall is known for its intimacy and, for me, I felt it was most intimate in sound. Though the music was performed by a chamber music ensemble in an enormous room, I could distinctly hear and distinguish the music and I believe its quality would be the same no matter where I sat.

So far I have not had very many good experiences with seating arrangements. It seems that there's always someone obstructing my view. This concert was no exception and, on top of that, since we sat on the right side of the balcony, our right side of the view of the stage was slightly obstructed. Of course, this had no effect on the quality of the music I perceived, and of this I was happy, but it did leave me, and I'm sure the other concertgoers as well, a bit irritated. The good acoustics are wonderful for the music but, as it seems during this particular concert, it also amplified the disturbances in the audiences. Luckily, the audience was polite enough to hold their coughing or sneezing until the brief rest between movements.

I have heard recordings of Anne-Sophie Mutter but it does not compare to finally seeing her play live. She plays effortlessly and confidently. When I looked for information about her before the concert, I learned that she plays without a shoulder rest and it did appear that way during this concert. Armed with this tidbit, I was impressed by her intimacy with the violin and, perhaps as a result, her virtuosity. Apparently, I wasn't the only person who enjoyed her performance: after each piece, she was called back on stage about three times and after the final piece, she acquiesced and played an encore piece. The concert also served to showcase a promising talent: Vilde Frang. Getting to see Bach's Double Concerto (Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, BWV 1043) live has its advantages; for me, at times, it is hard to separate the two solo voices in the recordings of this piece but during this concert, I was able to see who was playing which lines. We got to see a bit of Frang's talent but it was a shame that she could not play in another piece. Although she played beautifully, I felt that she still has room for improvement. As Mutter's protege, hopefully Frang will learn to adopt a bit of fluidity that is so prevalent in Mutter's playing.

I must confess that I'm not the biggest fan of Bach so I was apprehensive at first. However, after this concert, I have new appreciation for Bach because I was in awe of Mutter's performance of these violin concertos. I especially loved her performance in Tartini's "The Devil's Trill Sonata." I believe Mutter captured the spirit of the piece and I was amazed by her musicality. It is hard for me to judge because I don't have any experience with violin playing, but it seems rather difficult to play "The Devil's Trill" with good phrasing at the quick tempo the piece is played at but Mutter excelled.

After this concert, I learned a bit about myself: I left with an intrigue for Bach concertos, a hope to hear more from Vilde Frang, and an eagerness to return to Carnegie Hall. Just like the previous concerts, it made me realize the impact of live music. It's a real shame that we have so many musical performances and venues to choose from in New York City but in the bustle of everyday life, we seem to forget they exist. However, it seems that when we need it most, live music is a good dose of alleviation. It's another dimension, taking us places elsewhere to temporarily forget our monotonous and prosaic everyday bustle. Who wouldn't have the intention of going back if they didn't think this?





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