Critic: for more provocative orchestra programs, look to the past

Posted on: August 7, 2014

“For all of the dire omens about the future of classical music, I find myself more worried about its past,” writes Tim Smith in Tuesday’s (8/5) Baltimore Sun. “The part of the past that is especially slipping from us has to do with the art of interpretation…. It’s scary to think that crops of music conservatory grads might have no connection of any kind to such names as Furtwangler, Mengelberg, Mitropoulos and Barbirolli…. Something of what they can teach us about phrasing and dynamics, for example, surely is worth studying and absorbing today.… People lament [that] classical music … is boring and stuffy.… The biggest cure for boredom is more stimulating, individualistic music-making and more surprising programs…. Here are some examples of Mahler’s programming for his orchestras in Vienna and New York: Brahms’ Third on the first half; tone poem by Dvorak, overture by Beethoven on the second. Mahler’s Fourth to start; a Liszt concerto, assorted arias and piano pieces, and Berlioz’ ‘Roman Carnival’ to close.  For the first half, a Bach suite, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3; for the second half, Prelude and ‘Liebestod,’ ‘Bartered Bride’ Overture. Today, anything like that would be considered radical, if not insane. I think it would be cool.”

Posted August 7, 2014