Sunday, January 27, 2008

Two hours on a hard church pew

...was the price we paid for Musica Humana's action packed programme tonight in Vilnius - and they had cut two pieces....At least one other they could easily have cut, and another one did not really fit into the (all Mozart) programming.

Mozart's sonata for flute and keyboard, KV 13, presumably was written when he was about 6, knowing his output. I couldn't write this, of course, not without much trying, but really, let the child be a child and not remind us all of his early attempts. I am sure he would have buried it, as it should have been. Simplistic, too low on the flute, and with a dreadful last movement, which showed Mozart's early attempts at those little chromatic runs, but here they were like someone running with galumphing big boots. Not really helped by Algirdas Vizgirdas' booming tone (I do believe it's a bit breathy) that came out of his (new?) golden flute.

This was followed by the symphony KV128, two movements of the quartet for oboe and strings (why was the oboist described as a soloist), two arias from rare Mozart operas (Mitridate and Il re pastore), the dissonance string quartet (at half an hour far too long) and the Senerata Notturna KV 239.

The Musica Humana changes its composition rather often, though there is a core of about 5 people who always attend. It was interesting to note that those who came from symphony orchestras tended to use lush Tchaikovsky bowing whereas those who had a history of chamber orchestras were much better at the Mozartian bowing. Since the leader of the band is a flautist, they won't get much help in the decision-making on bowing. Also the chamber players were a bit more secure on their intonation. As for the lone cellist of the band, Raimundas Jasiukaitis, a member of the core team, he is always totally reliable and spot on in anything he does.

There was a lovely moment in the second movement of the symphony (I think...) which was not repeated when it came round again.... Robertas Beinaris' exquisite playing of the oboe part in the oboe-quartet was not always followed by the violinist repeating it, who rather rushed at it - bit of a shame. The others just kept their head down.

Raminta Vaicekauskaite, dressed like a golden bee, and knowing well why she curtsied and did not bow, wonderfully sang the two arias; she has a great, powerful voice - sitting in the front row my ears are now very clean! Here the first fiddles hit a rough patch now and again.

The string quartet was ok, but not string quartettish enough; the parts did not sing out their solos when they came, but just kept playing, as if they were in an orchestra - apart from the cello who did great. And far too long.

The Serenada Notturna was ok, with different parts of the band on the opposite side of the stage (because that's how it is). The last movement was weird - usually the much repeated theme starts with an appoggiatura, 'teedle-deedle', but here they started with 'tweek-tweek' - an accaciatura. It was the Kalmus edition they used, which explains a lot, but are they trying to tell me they haven't heard it before? That would be shocking.

I think the band has a new leader, and experience needs to be built. Though I also wonder about micro-management; the conductor likes to conduct, even when only 4 people were playing, and he conducts every note - imagine fast 16th-notes; maybe some of the players don't have the confidence to sing out - yet?