Nagano conducts Berkeley Akademie
June 02, 2009
* Notes *
The Berkeley Akademie Ensemble gave a concert of Bach, Ives, and Beethoven last Sunday at the First Congregational Church. The evening began with a rather strange version of Bach's Concerto in the Italian style for solo harpsichord in F Major, BMV 971 arranged for chamber orchestra by Joachim F. W. Schneider. The first movement sounded crisp except for the bassoon. The horns also had some intonation issues, but the focus of the whole group was quite strong for the Presto. This was followed by the third symphony from Ives, "The Camp Meeting." The tempi were restrained but the playing was fiery. The violin solo in the first movement was particularly plaintive.
After the intermission we heard Beethoven's Septet in E-flat Major. The violinist tossed off notes with great ease in the Allegro con brio part of the first movement, but sounded more strident and brittle in the fourth movement. The horn was less than accurate at times, but had good moments in the second and fifth movements.
* Tattling *
The bassist was enthusiastic, his movements were comical, and one must to take care not to look at him, lest an inappropriate giggle-fit should strike.
The audience was packed for Kent Nagano's last performance as conductor and artistic director of Berkeley Symphony. I was surrounded by very nice folks who offered me binoculars to view the performers up close, since we were in the last row.
Nagano did not conduct the last piece, and simply listened from the mezzanine. He thanked the audience at the end, and seemed rather humbled by the standing ovation.