VSO: The Beethoven Festival - Concert 4

Date and Venue 4 April 2008 @ 8 pm | The Orpheum Theatre

Programme Symphony No.6 in F Major, Op.68, Pastoral & Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major

Conductor Bramwell Tovey Featured performer Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin

Reviewer John Jane

Following an unexplained 15-minute delay, it was Bill Richardson, the host of CBC’s ‘Sunday Afternoon in Concert’ that welcomed the sold-out auditorium to the fourth Beethoven Festival concert in a series of six.

After the last couple of weeks of unseasonable cool weather, I was cheered by the graceful spirit of the first movement of the Pastoral Symphony which seemed to embrace the pleasant warmth inherent in this music. It could have been just what the doctor ordered for Maestro Bramwell Tovey who was showing few ill-effects of a recent flu virus.

The second movement was slower, more lyrical with lighter textures evoking visions of a perfect summer’s day that featured a charming solo by Wendy Wilhelmi on the piccolo. Third and fourth movements were brisk and strident, with the recurring theme of nature gradually overwhelming the aural senses. This of course, is Beethoven at his very best and the audience loved it.

Perhaps it was just a happy coincidence that on the eve of Herbert von Karajan’s 100th birthday his most celebrated prodigy, Anne-Sophie Mutter came to Vancouver for the first time in almost two decades to revisit Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra many years after first recording it as a teenager. Since then she has dazzled audiences all over the world with her virtuoso musicianship and technical brilliance.

Now in her mid-forties, the former Mrs Andre Previn is still striking and looked particularly elegant in the lemon mermaid-style Dior strapless gown she chose for this performance.

Maestro Tovey started the Allegro and Larghetto at an appropriately measured tempo, allowing consistent accompaniment, while Ms Mutter’s concord with the orchestra was spot-on. The featured soloist is renowned for injecting her own tempo and phrasing into the work; as a technical perfectionist and a sensitive interpreter she surely has the talent to make the audience hear music as a new experience.

The audience received Anne-Sophie Mutter’s performance with a standing ovation pressing for an encore; she duly obliged with a Beethoven Sonata which she dedicated to her former mentor, Maestro von Karajan.

© 2008 John Jane