Classical Bash

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Boy, did I have a pleasant surprise a few nights ago.

The local PBS affiliate out of Milwaukee ran a performance of Loren Mazel conducting the New York Philharmonic in a performance of Beethoven's THIRD SYMPHONY. Mind you, I have never really liked Mazel, and my opinion of the New York Philharmonic has been somewhat uneven over the past twenty-six years. Under Mehta it deteriorated to the point where the string section was weak and even a little squeeky. But last night I heard a very lush and responsive string section, perfectly balanced woodwinds, and a brass section which had been endowed with a heavenly glden glow.

And Mazel...My God, he turned in a virtuoso performance that left me speechless. I couldn't believe it was Mazel. All in all this was wonderful Beethoven. The phrasing in the First, Third, and Fourth Movement was both, powerful and graceful, while the Second Movement, the Funeral March was grimly emotional, reflecting everything from despair and hopelessness to glimmers of hope. I walked away from the performance emtionally drained--a sensation that I have not experienced during recent in concert performances of the Beethoven Symphonies in quite some time.

I can only hope that Mazel has finally, FINALLY matured a a conductor, because aside from a few operatic performances from the early to mid 1980s I really haven't been that impressed with him. Until now. Anyhow, I was wondering if you had an opportunity to hear this, because if it ever comes your way, by all means listen to it. It's worth the time and effort.

Peace Jeff