MSO, Johannes Moser’s Intriguing Shostakovich
Moserâ€™s performance was intriguing. I was interested to hear where he was headed, even if I did not always agree with the destination. At times he played with a deep sense of phrase and drama, with crisp rhythm. He was a sincere reflection of the music at his best. At other times I wondered about the core of his tone, which seemed to vary beyond deliberate coloristic choices. Some habits were off-putting, as in a fully extended arm on phrase-ending down-bows that distorted the music, and what I would describe as needlessly-calling-attention-to-extreme-effort playing in the final movement. This kind of musical overacting rings as false as a hammy actor chewing up the scenery. Krystof Pipal on horn and Todd Levy on clarinet both played with gorgeously rich tone in featured solos of the second movement.
Every couple of years I come to a symphony by Danish composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) with new discovery. Each time around the music falls right out of my head by the time I encounter the composer again. Guest conductor Paul Daniel led Nielsenâ€™s Symphony No. 4 (â€śThe Inextinguishableâ€ť), composed during World War I as an affirmation of life. The piece does not conjure enough conflict to feel triumphant. Daniel was good at giving it long-phrased shape. I questioned a couple of transitions, although I admit that this was an odd piece to get a take on a conductor. The concert began with the fascinating Sinfonietta by Scottish composer James MacMillan.