Friday, August 10, 2007



Published: August 4, 2007

The Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center has, in its first week, been mostly Beethoven. And that mini-festival culminates today in a long two-part re-creation of one of Beethoven’s most famous concerts, in 1808, which presented the premieres of major works including his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies and Fourth Piano Concerto. Louis Langrée will conduct the festival orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall.
But for sheer vitality, they will be hard put to match what Paavo Jarvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen put out in the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Thursday evening in a briefer but still meaty program of Beethoven. Mr. Jarvi led breathless performances of the “Creatures of Prometheus” Overture and the Seventh Symphony, and the magnetic pianist Ingrid Fliter joined them in the First Concerto.
Mr. Jarvi drove tempos and pushed dynamics wherever possible, and the orchestra was wondrously responsive to his every direction. Not that subtleties were absent. Mr. Jarvi was especially attuned to harmonic shifts, sometimes pointing them up almost comically, as warranted. And the players uttered scarcely a phrase that was not shapely, whether growing, fading or changing character.
Ms. Fliter, an Argentine pianist, was little known in this country before she received the $300,000 Gilmore Artist Award last year, but she is quickly proving her worth. Her performance here was deft (though not note-perfect) in animated sections, and she set a blistering pace for the finale and held to it.
But the Largo seemed a bit of a blank, despite Ms. Fliter’s insertion of a few ornamental figures. The lull came as a surprise, for on Ms. Fliter’s recordings, meditative or purely lyrical passages account for some of the most compelling moments. Still, she showed abundant personality in the outer movements, and she is clearly a substantial artist.
An occasional showiness on Mr. Jarvi’s part came to the fore not, oddly, in a gaudy moment but in a quiet one. In an otherwise lovely encore, Sibelius’s “Valse Triste,” he reduced a string passage to a pianissimo on the very edge of audibility. (Pianissimos of any kind had not been prominent in the Beethoven.)
That the passage remained audible at all was a tribute to the Rose Theater, which proved a knockout for a listener who had previously encountered only staged productions there. It seemed an ideal match for an orchestra of more than 40, lending crystal clarity to solos but also brilliantly projecting yet comfortably containing the many outbursts, which could almost be felt as well as heard.
These performances could not have had anything like the same impact in the traditional Mostly Mozart haunts: Avery Fisher Hall (even as modified for the festival) or the dry-as-dust Alice Tully Hall (at the moment returned to dust). You didn’t have to agree with everything in the interpretations to be caught up in the visceral thrill of it all, as the audience obviously was.
The Mostly Mozart Festival runs through Aug. 25 at Lincoln Center; (212) 721-6500.

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