May 20, 2010
After receiving several emails from people who wondered why I was dissing the Mozart Gran Partita in my last blog entry, it seemed that I should clarify what I meant. The piece: obviously great. It’s place on that program: not good at all.
I understand that tradition puts the concerto on the first half, and the big symphony on the second half, but the Gran Partita is not a big symphony. It’s chamber music, and maybe my assumption on this is way off, but I’ve always thought it was intended as background music for parties and fancy-pants dinners. I didn’t think it made sense to follow Jennifer Higdon’s very exciting Violin Concerto — with full orchestra accompaniment and Hilary Hahn — with a piece for a dozen wind players. If the Gran Partita had been the first half of the concert rather than the second, my attitude about it would have been much better. This was a meal where the appetizer was served as dessert.
My other issue was that this performance took every single repeat. Every one! Do I really need to hear every minuet theme twice? And it made the whole thing last 45 minutes. For my taste, that’s too much Classical period background music. Yes, it’s great background music — probably the best. But I can’t hear that after the Higdon concerto with Hilary Hahn and not feel that the Mozart is a bit sleepy by comparison.