Friday, March 10, 2006

Defamiliarization of Mozart and Greatest French symphony "La Mer"

For me, most of Mozart’s orchestra works sound too boring, too naïve, too predictable.

However, Nikolaj Znaider seemed not to be contended with the sweet tonality and tonight he defamiliarlized Mozart by adding temper, wit and free spirit. He dominated the tempo so that conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier pampered fiddler’s great ambition of inserting Beethoven’s bones into Mozart.

Znaider’s inspirational rubato, at some point, went so unexpectedly that music couldn’t flow because of overloaded passion and expression. His 1704’s Stradivarius also seemed to cry for a more expressive and dynamic piece to show off his magnificent grand sound. Nevertheless, Mozart has never sounded so exciting like tonight. Under Znaider’s bow, the candy coated boyish prodigy is filled with abundant character yet profound soul.

Even though it is regarded as a pictorial piece with Debussy himself requesting Hokusai’sThe hollow of the wave off Kanagawa” as the cover design, La Mer is indeed French in the sense of extreme delicacy and fantastic chromaticism.

I have never failed to enjoy Debussy’s La Mer Mer and have always been sparked with his beloved pentatonic scales symbolizing oriental elegancy. However, anyone who has been used to Celibidache’s conducting of Debussy will find every conductor else is playing the music like hip-hop. In Celibidache’s EMI recording, “From Dawn to Noon on the sea” becomes a philosophical essay. The silence before the principle key D flat major is established, almost 10 seconds long, arises such agitation and eagerness that the first sunray breaking the sky from the cellos feels like rich liquor pouring onto one’s head.

Tortelier made music flow with undulating emotions, but the texture had never been tainted. Each layer, each shade was so vividly carried out by palpable sound waves that at the climax the chromatic shrieks made me breathless. It is only about 23 minutes long, but it is vast and broad, just as the title indicated.

BTW, in the intermission, Znaider told me that his Stradivarius "ex-Liebig" violin is about 2.5 to 3 million dollars. It is said it is the ice age or the weather that makes the Strdivarius so special. The trees grew much slower because of the low temperature and less sunlight 300 hundreds years ago, thus violin was made of better wood. What I believe is that each Stradivarius has a soul. (Piano doesn't have a soul, it is too industrail, too mechanic, too machine.) And through generations each owner has poured more humanity into it each time it is played.

No comments: