Staatskapelle Berlin plays Beethoven Piano Concertos
February 11, 2010
* Notes *
Last weekend the Staatskapelle Berlin performed all five of Beethoven piano concertos paired with works by Arnold Schönberg at Salle Pleyel. Friday night started off with Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, a cheerful, almost Mozartian piece. Daniel Barenboim played straightforwardly, without any bravado. The woodwinds had a certain whimpering quality, and the strings were fine. The Schönberg was Fünf Orchesterstücke (5 Pieces for Orchestra), which was played with exuberance. This was followed by the fourth piano concerto of Beethoven, played with great vigor with emphasis on the wonderful sense of salvation in this piece.
The second evening gave us Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major and No. 3 in C minor. Barenboim played solidly, making only a few mistakes, and the orchestra kept pace. The Adagio of No. 2 had a beautiful longing in it, and the Rondo (Molto allegro) a certain irrepressibleness. In No. 3, the brass had a slightly hazy sound, but were not ostentatious. The Schönberg was Variations for Orchestra was played well, though I found it somewhat waxen in comparison to the Beethoven.
The final afternoon performance included the famous Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major. Barenboim and the orchestra played with vim and playfulness. Schönberg's rather romantic Pelleas und Melisande followed.
* Tattling *
The audience was very good on Friday, from where we were only a bit of snoring was noted during Schönberg. Saturday's audience was less good, there was a cellphone ring during the second piano concerto. Worst of all was Sunday, when the couple next to us in the orchestra seats V 150 and 152 could not stop talking, whispering, and making out. It was actually pretty funny. However, a woman in the center terrace insisted on taking flash photographs of the orchestra, and was roundly scolded in French by Barenboim himself before Schönberg. She was unabashed and unrepentant, and she continued photographing him after the performance, even using flash a few times.