Friday, August 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Those Vienna Ambassadors

I didn't think I'd make it out of the office in time to cover the Vienna Philharmonic concert Tuesday night, so I handed coverage over to David Patrick Stearns, whose review will appear in the paper Thursday. But I finished up just in time to make curtain and catch what quickly became the Lang Lang show. The pianist pushed and pulled a Chopin concerto into a fully distorted state, and at one point became so antic at the keyboard he actually started conducting the conductor, Zubin Mehta. The audience ate it up. The orchestra's wonderful sound, antique of a certain period and gently naturalistic, was there as always. But it's interesting to hear that an orchestra unanimously cited as one of the best, if not the best, can have its rough moments. You couldn't say that the ensemble was consistently tight - which I'd define as starting notes at the same time, changing notes at the same time - and definitely not as tight as the Cleveland Orchestra in its recent Verizon Hall appearance. Maybe it was Mehta, or perhaps just one of those tour moments that for reasons of being made of human stuff, doesn't reach full precision. Which it not to say it wasn't a terrific concert. Just that if the Vienna Phil scores, at its best, 99.5 percent, this was a lovely 97 percent. Of course, you'll have the benefit of a second opinion in The Inquirer tomorrow. A side note: it would okay with me if I attended a concert at which the announcer did not make note that David F. Girard-diCarlo, the former U.S. Ambassador to Austria and Republican rainmaker, was in the audience. So small town, that practice.

Those Vienna Ambassadors

I didn't think I'd make it out of the office in time to cover the Vienna Philharmonic concert Tuesday night, so I handed coverage over to David Patrick Stearns, whose review will appear in the paper Thursday. But I finished up just in time to make curtain and catch what quickly became the Lang Lang show. The pianist pushed and pulled a Chopin concerto into a fully distorted state, and at one point became so antic at the keyboard he actually started conducting the conductor, Zubin Mehta. The audience ate it up. The orchestra's wonderful sound, antique of a certain period and gently naturalistic, was there as always. But it's interesting to hear that an orchestra unanimously cited as one of the best, if not the best, can have its rough moments. You couldn't say that the ensemble was consistently tight - which I'd define as starting notes at the same time, changing notes at the same time - and definitely not as tight as the Cleveland Orchestra in its recent Verizon Hall appearance. Maybe it was Mehta, or perhaps just one of those tour moments that for reasons of being made of human stuff, doesn't reach full precision. Which it not to say it wasn't a terrific concert. Just that if the Vienna Phil scores, at its best, 99.5 percent, this was a lovely 97 percent. Of course, you'll have the benefit of a second opinion in The Inquirer tomorrow. A side note: it would okay with me if I attended a concert at which the announcer did not make note that David F. Girard-diCarlo, the former U.S. Ambassador to Austria and Republican rainmaker, was in the audience. So small town, that practice.

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
About this blog

Peter Dobrin is a classical music critic and culture writer for The Inquirer. Since 1989, he has written music reviews, features, news and commentary for the paper, covering such topics as the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the Venice Biennale, expansion of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra's bankruptcy declaration in 2011, Philadelphia's evolving performing arts center and the general health of arts and culture.

Dobrin was a French horn player. He earned an undergraduate degree in performance from the University of Miami, and received a master's degree in music criticism from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Elliott Galkin. He has no time to practice today.

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