* Notes *
The Vienna Philharmonic's latest tour with Semyon Bychkov started in Cologne, has 5 stops in California, and ends in Toronto. Last night's performance at Cal Performances in Berkeley was the first of three different concerts here.
The evening began with Schubert's Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major. The sound was fastidious yet with much warmth and sweetness. The tempi changes were clear, and each of the movements were rendered transparently. The two parts of the first movement were distinct and had so much energy, the audience could be contained from clapping. The first three variations of the Andante lilted, while the fourth and fifth ones were more restrained, then the coda lilted yet again. The Menuetto danced, and the Presto vivace was robust.
After an intermission we heard Wagner's Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. The playing was taut and ominious. The brass sounded lucid, the strings shimmered. This was followed by Béla Bartók's Suite from A csodálatos mandarin. The dense, chaotic work was played colorfully, but with control. The fugue was particularly brilliant.
* Tattling *
The people around me were rather chatty before the performance and during the intermission. The man to my right got a lecture about the Vienna Philharmonic and the program notes were even read to him. He did listen to the performance in rapt silence. The person behind me happened to be a physics student writing for the Daily Cal, said writer was interograted extensively by a woman seated in H 6 of the orchestra. Everyone managed to be quiet during the music, except H 6's companion, who felt it necessary to exclaim during Bartók. He took my hushing of him well, and did not speak again.