Great Symphonies, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, D. Zinman (Sony, 2014)
Mozart, Piano Concerti 22/24, A. Hewitt, National Arts Centre Orchestra, H. Lintu
(released on July 8, 2014)
Hyperion CDA68049 | 63'20"
Mozart, Piano Concerti 18/22, Ronald Brautigam, Die Kölner Akademie, M. A. Willens
(released on April 29, 2014)
BIS-2044 | 59'01"
Here is a primer of the possibilities of a large orchestra and a much broader understanding of what is "acceptable" in terms of dissonance. As Dahlhaus put it, before Schoenberg arrived at the ordering concept of the twelve-tone system, Schoenberg's music was informed by two ideas: "the difference between consonance and dissonance is one of degree, not of kind," and "tonality is not a natural law of music but merely a formal principle." The third movement is associated with Schoenberg's coinage of the term "Klangfarbenmelodie" (see Dahlhaus's book for an assessment of what Schoenberg meant), and here the floating orchestral colors smoldered inside their slowly changing static state, capped by shocking climaxes in the final two movements. As to what story the work might be telling, Schoenberg chose to remove the programmatic titles added to the movements at the time of the work's publication. Dahlhaus observed that Schoenberg's decision was unequivocal: "Extramusical premisses did indeed exist, but he did not 'give them away'; they did not belong to the work itself, merely to the circumstances of its creation, which were the private concern of the composer."
Anne Midgette, Workmanlike NSO, Zinman offer a blurred look back at Central Europe (Washington Post, October 10)
In the middle, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 22 (E-flat major, K. 482) was disappointing, not because it is not an ingenious and eminently likable piece, which it certainly is, but because the soloist, Angela Hewitt, and the orchestra were too often at odds. Hewitt is a gifted recitalist, where she has the freedom to shape each phrase in minute detail exactly to her liking; straitjacketed by an orchestra accompanying her, her performance often felt rushed and a little jumbled, except when she was playing completely by herself. The second movement featured her best playing, as well as excellent turns by the orchestral musicians in the section for wind ensemble and the funny flute-bassoon duet -- this is the first Mozart concerto to feature clarinets in the orchestration, and the use of the winds is extraordinary. Hewitt's cycle of the Mozart concerti has not become a favorite, either, possibly because it is in competition with the always surprising and endearing cycle by Ronald Brautigam on pianoforte -- both soloists released their versions of no. 22 this year within a couple months of each other.
This concert repeats tonight and tomorrow (October 10 and 11, 8 pm), in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.