Daniel Grossmann has been leading and shaping Munich’s little, innovatively programming Jakobsplatz Orchestra since its inception in 2005. Recently he hit upon the good (indeed highly necessary and long overdue) idea to also let other conductors lead the band: It ought to be good for the band, their experience and morale, and also mitigate their reputation as a toy orchestra for Grossmann (à la Mendelssohn, who got a chamber orchestra for his 12th birthday).
Grossmann could hardly have landed a more impressive coup than getting Daniel Hope as the orchestra’s first ever guest conductor. Hope (who looks a bit how Louis C.K. might, with a violin and minus the funny) is on the front end of a promo-tour of his albums “Spheres” and “Four Seasons Re-Composed” (see Best Recordings of 2012) and needed a backup band for his project anyway… and the Jewish community center’s Jakobsplatz Orchestra was a ready, willing, and an appropriate fit for Hope, who likes to engage in a bit of ambiguous jewishy shpil & shtick. (Always reminds me of “The Yada Yada” Seinfeld episode: “…and this offends you as a Jewish person? / No, it offends me as a comedian.”)
All kinds of composers, Spheres,
D.Hope et al.
M.Richter, Recomp. / 4 Seasons
D.Hope / de Ridder / KCO
If Grossmann was nervous before the show about his orchestra’s performance, he need not have been. They did very well, including the co-soloists when they were asked upon. Then again, very little was asked of them in the repertoire—which relegated the orchestra to a slightly wasteful backup role not unlike using a great choir only to go “ah-umm” on two notes, alongside a starlet singer.
The ‘Max Richter-goes-Four Seasons’ album is great, if you give it half a chance. Much greater, incidentally, on record (with amplification and athmospherinization [sic]), than it comes across live. The swoosh of turning pages (not Hope, who uses a very fancy page-self-turning Kindle-like gizmo) is an element of reality that this seductive re-Vision of the Four Seasons does not need. What it needs is a car stereo and a long, late-night drive on the highway. Hope encored a bit from Summer and then, true to form (and place) his encore-staple, the Kaddish by Ravel. Yadda Yadda… a fun night, quibbles and all.