April 16, 2008 at 2:09 PMMonday, April 7, 2008
She finishes with a flourish and we rise to our feet, roaring our approval, hands soon stinging from ceaseless clapping. Over the next three minutes she leaves the stage, returns for a bow, leaves, returns, leaves, and then rewards us. An encore. Something Brahmsian and beautiful.
It’s too short. She departs and again we rise, we clap, we implore her to return to us which she does, again and again, gliding out in her strapless Dior dress. She is so elegant, so beautiful, so charismatic. “Brava,” we cry, and she rewards us again. Another encore.
We can’t believe our luck. A hush falls over the sold-out concert hall as 2500 posteriors settle quickly back into their seats. Another Brahms, from his Hungarian Dances.
She pours her heart into her encore performances. This is no delicate, sweet icing on the cake. This is more of the meal. It’s sensational. We’re electrified.
Too soon, again, she leaves. There is a frenzied nature to our clapping now, an exhilaration, a feeling that something is happening that does not normally occur in a major concert hall performance. We, the fans, are running the show. “Anne Sophie,” we cry through our clapping, “bring us more magic!”
We don’t stop the applause. We won’t. This swell of enthusiasm is simply too big to die away, it has spawned its own life. She recognizes this, then. She comes out. A third encore. The crowd goes wild. Only the sound of her speaking quiets us. She announces in that lyrical, slightly flirtatious voice of hers, what she will play next. (Another of the Hungarian Dances, perhaps, but don’t quote me.)
She plays, then leaves. We are all crazed and laughing and shouting out; it’s classical music’s version of a rock concert audience. She returns for three more bows, then holds up her hand. “I will play again,” she calls out, “but this is the last time.” A playful warning tone enters her voice. We chuckle, then bob our heads like obedient children.
The last choice is perfect: Brahms's “Lullaby.” A ripple of appreciative laughter runs through the audience. But then we quiet down further and really listen. I have never taken this piece so seriously before, nor heard such magic within it. It casts a spell on the audience. It is such a perfect ending to the encore frenzy; it soothes us, sedates us, sends us out of the concert hall sleepy, compliant and satiated.
Four encores. An extraordinary night no one in the audience will ever forget. I am now an eternal fan of Anne Sophie Mutter.
© 2008 Terez Rose
Every person in Benaroya and Davies (?) is probably a fan for life now.
It annoys me, as well, when a musician WON'T give an encore. Joshua Bell wouldn't do one once; he almost looked a bit impatient with us at the end, with all our clapping and shouts of bravo. Strange. Then again, I suppose it would be an awkward situation to have the opposite occur - an encore performance in response to a lukewarm reception from the audience.
And Ray, you said it!
I'm impressed with your writing. I can feel the excitement as if I were there.
I've been trying to decide whether to buy a ticket for ASM when she comes here. Now I know that the answer is definitely yes.
Wow! (And thanks for the nice comment about my writing. I'm in novel-writing mode these days, can you tell?)
Nick, I was sitting in Row D, off to the side. I was a little nervous it wasn't going to be the best of spots, maybe too close, too far to the right, but it turned out to be great. (Except that I could not see the pianist at all.) Loved the price of the ticket, tho! (Not sure exactly, but Front Orchestra, I think, is like $40.00 less per ticket than Premier Orchestra, one row behind me.
And yes, I agree on the concert time - I think that has something to do with it. At the March 8th concert, not only did Gil Shaham give an encore, but in the second half, the orchestra and MTT gave an encore. Short program decision, I think. Hey, we were all happy!
But I actually still enjoyed reading this blog quite a bit, because it helped me understand better why that kind of experience appeals to many people. Thanks!
Terez, great writing and thanks for sharing your wonderful experience. I too a ASM fan. Her CDs and DVDs are among my top 10 most played list.
I'm just kidding, Karen. (Thanks for letting me get away with saying it once, tho!) You made a great, and rather humorous point - I will now always think of those people in the audience, writhing in their impatience to leave, too polite to walk out, but being DONE with the performance and the applause already.
Sydney - hey, cool! So, were you like HERE there, or Kansas City there, which, since I'm from there, can, from time to time feel like HERE, if I'm there, and this makes no sense, but how cool that we're both here now talking about there. Or here.
I'll go back to the novel now, I think....
Pauline - interesting to note that the SF Chronicle music critic, Joshua Kosman, didn't have a lot of great stuff to say about her performance. He didn't even mention the four encores. Sheesh.
http://news.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/04/09/DDON101T5D.DTL&type=music (I'm too lazy to make the link live, sorry!)
I will take the time to make THIS link live. : )
And regarding your comment here:
>AMS's recitals tend to be memorable because her interpretations are not mainstream (although usually not as far out as Nadia S-S's)
Interesting that I found myself comparing the two artists that night, as both of them did an all-Brahms recital, at Davies Hall, roughly one year apart. And wow, how very different both recitals sounded.
In truth, it took this recital to make me a fan of ASM. Some of the recordings I have of her left me feeling like she was too liberal with her vibrato, and it seemed to lessen the purity and the impact of some of the passages (notably in her Sibelius VC recording, but then again, I am hopelessly stuck on Josh Bell's interpretation and seem to find every other recording, other than David O's, somehow lacking.)
Finally they played a song which has a chorus line that goes like "Bye bye, Johnny bye bye" (or similar) and after this song the crowd quietly and orderly left the venue. Apparently, this was also part of the routine and most fans knew that after this bye bye song the show was effectively over. The whole thing was an amazing experience, simply for its theatrical value.
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