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Subtle drama

Koerner Hall
05/03/2018 -  & May 4, 5, 6, 2018
Ludwig van Beethoven: Concerto for violin in D Major, Op. 61 – Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 "Pastoral"
Elisa Citterio (violin)
The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Bruno Weil (conductor)

B. Weil (© Mio Schweiger)

The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, boosted up to 40 players, closed its 39th season with a further foray into the 19th century and the works of Beethoven. This marked the end of Elisa Citterio’s first season as music director, and it is worth noting that the orchestra’s first music director, Jeanne Lamon, was concertmaster for the occasion.

This program was bound to be popular, featuring two of Beethoven’s sunniest compositions. Yes, there is the storm in the “Pastoral” Symphony but the sun quickly reappears. The Violin Concerto has a moment or two where the composer’s well-known serious side reveals itself, but these are fleeting, especially in Elisa Citterio’s intimate, light-textured approach, something one would expect from an ensemble such as this. If it lacked moments of drama the personal, conversational quality of the performance was ideally suited to the venue.

At the opening of the symphony Bruno Weil seized the moment with a quick attack. The performance had a lot of sonic variety, with the quieter music played very softly, followed by piquant textures in the “Scene by the brook”, then very lively tempi for the rustic dance. Then of course the tempest - followed by a slow build to the final climax. It is impossible to say anything new about this familiar (and well-loved work). Is it ever done badly? This performance was notably charming - and a fine welcome to a delayed spring.

Michael Johnson



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