Brahms and Crazy

Review of Sinaisky Conducts Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé at Seattle Symphony by Anna B.

I have to say, the Brahms double concerto is MAGNIFICENT. Absolutely unbelievably mind-blowing. This particular double is a violin and cello, and Brahms plays with the contrasting instruments—plus full orchestra—in an intricate and ever-surprising manner, flipping the usual concerto order on its head (the violin and cello each start with a cadenza {technically difficult solo passage}, which should come at the end of the concerto). And the Seattle Symphony in all its glory is a wonder to behold—although there were only six basses for the Brahms, and I was slightly disappointed. Nonetheless, finally seeing the entire orchestra on stage (rather rare for a concerto, but it’s BRAHMS and crazy) definitely was a highlight.

Daniel Müller-Schott rocks the dramatic hair-in-eyes look

However, one lowlight—the violin soloist. I myself am a violinist, and so maybe I’m too harsh on him, but goodness! The cellist outplayed him times a million! Don’t get me wrong, Henning Kraggerud is a nearly flawless technical player, and I never felt like screaming at his intonation or shifting or anything, but Daniel Müller-Schott played with passion and fire and zeal (proper Brahms!) and Henning looked rather boring onstage. You know something’s wrong when you’re watching the cellist even when he’s playing backup for the violin soloist.

Henning, dear, follow this advice and no one will be able to complain: First, cut your hair. It looked like it was weighing your head down, attaching it inescapably to the chinrest of your violin, pinning you in the exact same spot and forcing you to play like a robot. Take a lesson from the cellist sitting next to you—dramatic hair in your eyes is good. Hair that long is not good.

Anna's advice for Kraggerud: more passion, less hair

Second, feel the Brahms. It is BRAHMS. Passion and power and fire and beauty. Understand this, and I will have no complaints.

There are two pieces in this concert; the entire second half is a Ravel ballet-without-the-ballet, Daphnis et Chloé. It’s a wonderful piece, with links to a lot of modern music, and not only did it have an enormous chorale, they also finally pulled out all the stops—there were eight basses! (the full contingent). The guest conductor, Vassily Sinaisky, really brings out the best in the Seattle Symphony, a sound I haven’t heard in a long time. Both the Ravel and the Brahms are worth seeing, but each in their own right—Brahms because it’s magnificent (and Daniel Müller-Schott is AMAZING), and Ravel because it renews faith in the power of the Seattle Symphony to be awesome. I needed that renewal of faith.

- Anna B.
Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Next up at Seattle Symphony: Dausgaard Conducts Rachmaninov & Sibelius, March 25 - 27. More info at
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