Friday, April 24, 2009

Extremist Mozart

I don't think I have ever been in a classical concert where the audience clapped along to the performers - but it happened last night in Vilnius!

It was an astonishing concert! Mikkel Futtrup, the Danish violinist, directed the St Christopher Chamber Orchestra in a concert of Mozart violin concertos (don't ask me which ones, I did not have a programme).  At one stage I thought they had played that rondo for violin and orchestra, because the audience applauded after one movement. But that was the pattern for the whole evening; applause every time he put the bow down. He encouraged it, and why not - if it takes such playing to get people into classical concerts (it was full of young people, standing room only), why not?

The performance was amazing. Futtrup played almost all the time; did not wait for the orchestra to play its introduction but played along with it the way the baroque concertos work. But what energy, what vitality! And what an interpretation!  Very idiosyncratic, not always sticking to Mozart's notes (he giggled audibly when one moment a passage's intonation fell victim to exuberance) or indeed to his rhythms, rubatoing all over the place, keeping the tension high all the time, and having a ball! As was the orchestra who were smiling all the time (quite apart from the audience!).  In the last concerto's middle movement it seemed he was flagging a bit, but the last movement's 'Don Giovanni' part was awesome.

It was a brilliant concert, and no-one who was there will ever listen to Mozart concertos played nicely in quite the same way. Here's a real personality who you might actually recognize in a recording; a rarity nowadays. I wondered how he might be on stage together with the almost as exuberant Daniel Hope; but there are few concertos written for two violins, apart from baroque concertos.

His encore was some well-known 'Gypsy' music, played among others, by a 'drunken man' - brilliant, brilliant stuff it was.  Look out for this performer!

And to think that I might not have gone (felt a bit lazy....)