Friday, July 10, 2020

Philharmonie im Gasteig, Munich, Germany

A Covid-conscious concert: music with Classical scoring (the Bavarians sporting no more than three each of basses and cellos, with six outside-right violas, violins in proportion); no interval; and an audience restricted to a relative handful.

The Beethoven (Piano Concerto No.2) found Igor Levit informally dressed against the ties and tails of Franz Welser-Möst and the ensemble, although pianist and maestro both donned masks when not making music. The opening movement was sparkling and considerate, gently touched by Levit, intimate, while reading the notes from an iPad, and teasing the cadenza slightly out of shape. If the Adagio was initially lacking pathos it deepened as it went along, and the Finale – clipped, frisky, Levit taking his interventionist chances – rode a joyous wave.

For an encore Levit offered … what? He introduced it (in German), and I take a punt that it’s called Luiza by Antônio Carlos Jobim in an arrangement by Fred Hersch – thanks to Google for helping my enquiries – whatever, it was rather lovely, confiding and bittersweet, played raptly.

Finally, Mozart 38 (Prague Symphony, K503). The purposeful slow introduction led seamlessly into an unhurried Allegro played with style and finesse, countered by vivid trumpets and timpani – invidious amid so much excellence to single out the so-expressive contributions of the first oboist, fabulous. The slow movement was gently spun, a lyrical dream, although long grace notes raised doubts, and the Finale (there is no Minuet) was crisp and bubbling. All first-time repeats observed.

Good camerawork, mostly without cleverness, and superb Bavarian Radio sound.