Lars Stars!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Tue, 2018-10-30 23:11

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra with Lars Vogt (piano/conductor), Music by Beethoven, Mozart and Webern, Michael Fowler Centre 26 October

It's always reassuring, in a time of relentless, mindless war against all things dead, European and male, to be able to savour composers and performances such as these. New Zealand Opera's stellar production of Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme a few weeks back was one such occasion. That people flocked in such numbers to revel in such rapturous music was convincing evidence that the forces of barbarism have not yet triumphed.

The above concert was another such occasion. After some bracing Beethoven (Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus), German pianist Lars Vogt continued the practice introduced to New Zealand by the great Freddy Kempf of conducting from the keyboard. In fact, for Mozart's Piano Concerto No 21, the piano was pointed straight at the orchestra and Vogt had his back to the audience. Once one adjusted to this initially disconcerting set-up, one could see how well it facilitated the directing-from-the keyboard project, to which Lars Vogt seems well suited (though one does look forward to Freddy's return at some point soon!). The configuration of the strings and woodwind lent a uniquely mellow sound to the orchestra, and one was enveloped in lushness. Needless to say, hearts were melting during the "Elvira Madigan" movement.

An uncharacteristically beautiful Webern piece, written when the composer was in love and before he joined The Dark Side, followed. The evening concluded with Mr. Vogt deftly leading the on-form band through some more Mozart, the "Linz Symphony," its triumphant finale sending the audience off on a non-pharmaceutical high.

Other great classics of Western Civilisation such as the Beethoven 9th and Handel's Messiah lie ahead. Human glory and grandeur endure!