New York Times
August 4, 2010
Even highly competent orchestral concerts can sound like just another day at the office for jaded musicians. But when the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen appeared at Alice Tully Hall on Monday evening in the Mostly Mozart Festival, it seemed that work was certainly play for these fiery performers.
There was nothing quotidian about any of the concert, conducted by Paavo Jarvi, the ensemble’s artistic director since 2004. There were two Schumann works on the lineup in honor of that composer’s bicentennial. In an interview printed in the orchestra’s seasonal book for 2010, Mr. Jarvi said that when interpreting Schumann “you have to exaggerate emotions, not so much the precision” in the music, and instead of looking for logic, focus instead on its “neurotic extremes.”
Mr. Jarvi did just that in his bristling and almost unhinged interpretations of Schumann’s “Manfred” Overture, which opened the program, and the “Spring” Symphony No. 1 in B flat, which closed it. Schumann, an unstable man who attempted suicide and died in an insane asylum, composed the overture as music for Lord Byron’s dramatic poem about a transcendence-seeking, Faust-like sorcerer.
This was a Xanax-free performance, the music raw and unprettified and its bipolar underpinnings highlighted with sharp contrasts and unexpected accents. The musicians, perched on the edge of their seats, played with enormous energy and illuminated violent mood swings within a single measure.
Neurotic cinders also fanned their high-octane rendition of Schumann’s First Symphony, which he composed quickly and in good spirits in 1841. Mr. Jarvi’s incisive, unpredictable phrasing and bold contrasts made for an exciting performance, although with music making this risky, the few rough edges seemed almost inevitable.
Piotr Anderszewski, a highly idiosyncratic pianist, is an ideal match for this ensemble. More than the typically brief rehearsal time seemed to have gone into their thoughtful rendering of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G, with soloist and orchestra remarkably attuned to each other.
Mr. Anderszewski’s approach stops just short of mannered; his interpretation might even sound pretentious in the hands of a less gifted performer. But this distinctive musician is never routine, and his exquisitely honed phrasing and gestures often illuminate unusual structural details. The orchestra played with great elegance, particularly in the dance-like final movement.
There were three encores: Mr. Anderszewski played Bartok’s Three Hungarian Folksongs after the concerto in the first half of the program. After the Schumann symphony, the orchestra offered a vigorous performance of the last movement from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 and Sibelius’s “Valse Triste” (Op. 44, No. 1) — remarkable for the gossamer pianissimos that seemed to cast a spell over the rapt audience.http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/04/arts/music/04kammer.html?_r=1