A classical music blog by music critic Tim Mangan
Myung-Whun Chung conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra.
classical music, music videos
conductors, Myung-Whun Chung, Shostakovich
January 5, 2014
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I am very perplexed watching this. At first, I noticed how much he was looking down which I took to mean he was looking at the score but then saw that he wasn’t using a score. He clearly knows the score very well, that symphony is not easy to conduct not least of all because of the many meter changes. His technique is clear but it looks like he has a really odd detachment, like he’s forcing himself to have fun (maybe he’s emulating Soviet policy?!) Philharmonia sounds terrific, of course, and in the end it’s a good performance. Also, his jacket is too big, it shouldn’t fly around like that…especially distracting at the end.
I didn’t feel so much that he’s detached as he’s more involved in the rhythmic aspect than the emotional, though he certainly enjoys the comedy at the end. (When I’ve watched it, it does seem that the timing in the video is off a bit, here and there, the visual behind the audio. Not sure though.) Yeah, the coat is ill fitting.
Always liked this conductor and am not disappointed here. Unfortunately, the image is behind the sound in this video – not “here and there” but throughout; this problem can be clearly seen only when string players are on the screen, but it is the same way from beginning to end – which is why the Maestro looks as if he is following the orchestra (which would have been terrible) when in fact he is definitely leading. He takes a very ambitious tempo from the start and, against all odds, he manages to keep it impressively steady until the very last note, which is a considerable accomplishment in this challenging movement. So, bravi to him and to all the virtuosic Philharmonia players! The conductor’s seemingly “detached” demeanor is absolutely necessary in this type of interpretation of this type of music, in order to maintain such a relentlessly driven pace. Others might emphasize details a little more or be somewhat more playful occasionally, but i think that Chung’s way is a perfectly valid approach that is very effective in this piece.
I was lucky enough to be conducted by him once, when I was in the Debut Orchestra. I’m sure you performed with him several times, right?
Quite a few times actually, but unfortunately not since mid-1980s. The most memorable experience with Myung-Whun for me was in early 1980s when on a rather short notice he replaced some other conductor (possibly Giulini but i am not 100% sure right now) and led a series of absolutely wonderful performances of Rossini’s Stabat Mater at the bad old Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. He was of course an outstanding pianist as well, but has quickly developed into a truly fine conductor.
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