Songs my Motherboard Taught Me: Music in the Age of Isolation.
Tanglewood Great Performers in Recital At Tanglewood, June 29, 2020
Augustin Hadelich, Violin; Orion Weiss, Piano
Claude Debussy, Violin Sonata in G Minor
Johannes Brahms, Violin Sonata in A Major, Op. 100
John Adams, Road Movies
The idea of a shuttered Tanglewood summer seems almost inconceivable, but there it is: sheds, halls, lush greenery, absence, and silence. The “lawn experience,” both coveted and ridiculed, is gone.
The season has been, in part, ionized into chamber performances that you can stream on your favorite digital screen and sound system. Surely many devotees are buying sound amplifiers, fancy headsets, and speakers to get a tolerable playback from their computers. I took my laptop outside and sat on a patch of grass near my house. Some cheese slices in a plastic bag, and a diet cola, and I was set.
Actually, the BSO’s web streaming technology has been superior to many other broadcast platforms in these Covid-19 times. You pay $12 for a concert (one hour) and you can view it when you buy it, or, perhaps, on a later day. I say that these offerings are better than others from hours of frustrating experience. For example, DG offers a pay-for Bayreuth season with reruns of recent and past productions. This week, for example, it took ten hours to get a full uninterrupted run, without buffering, of Die Meistersinger. Who says it’s the longest opera clocking in at a mere five hours?
Tonight, however, the virtual experience was quite different: Augustin Hadelich and Orion Weiss, a violin and piano duo, performed blissfully without any interruptions of buffering, disconnects, and other digital distractions. Mr. Hadelich’s impressive technique and tone was complemented by Mr. Weiss’s concentrated and perceptive accompaniment.
The program in some ways reflected mood swings that strike us these days: melancholy, valediction, the hauntings of past ardors, and the impulse to get the hell out. Debussy’s final composition, his violin sonata, lures us with moments of whimsy and humor, but ultimately exposes the chilling edge of eternity. Brahms’s great A major Sonata, appeared like a ghost of voluptuousness past. The ravaging beauty of the opening movement was an ironic reminder of my previous evening mounting Die Meistersinger, almost quoting Wagner’s “Morgenlich leuchtend.” The imitative songs and dance episodes of the second movement never cease to charm, and the arching third movement heroically steals from Brahms’s own Lieder. The great heft of this movement reminded me of the past: as an undergraduate I heard the great violinist Felix Galimir say that “Brahms could move a note even if it weighed two-thousand pounds!” I worried how many gigabytes that might be and whether I had enough bandwidth for the Brahms pass-off.
John Adams’s Road Movies concluded the recital, with nervous, bounding energy. The last movement, full of hand-crossed ostinatos for the piano and blue-grass figurations for fiddle, was great fun.
Mr. Hadelich’s playing is both muscular and polished, yet flexible and thoughtful. His seriousness is a bit of an obstacle in passages calling for lightness and irony. Grandeur, passion, and nobility are his calling cards. Mr. Weiss shined technically with thoughtful and precise phrasing and pedaling.
Next in the series Tanglewood: Ax and Ma.