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Terez Mertes

Encore, Encore!

April 16, 2008 at 2:09 PM

Monday, April 7, 2008
Anne Sophie Mutter in Recital
Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco

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

From Kim Vawter
Posted on April 16, 2008 at 3:03 PM
What a wonderful experience. This is life at it's best!
Thanks for writing.
From Anne Horvath
Posted on April 16, 2008 at 4:18 PM
Glad you enjoyed your concert. I haven't heard ASM live. I do have some of her CDs. I like her recording of the Brahms sonatas, with Alexis Weissenberg. I also have her Mozart G major concerto she made with "That Man K", when she was about 12. Good stuff.
From Valerie Coon
Posted on April 16, 2008 at 5:19 PM
She did the same thing in Seattle. Yay, I like artists who are appreciative enough of their fans (and conveniently, not too exhausted) to make us ever-so-happy.

Every person in Benaroya and Davies (?) is probably a fan for life now.

From Bill Busen
Posted on April 16, 2008 at 5:26 PM
Oistrakh's Brahms Lullaby was the same epiphany for me. Incredibly beautiful. It was on an LP and I haven't run across any current recording of it. Made me get that arrangement and start practicing the accompaniment long ago.
From Jay Azneer
Posted on April 16, 2008 at 6:04 PM
Quite the opposite of Zuckerman's concert in Clearwater where the audience clapped and stood and pounded our hearts out and he absolutely would not play again. How ungenerous! Maybe he just can't play the encore lit anymore after concentrating on Mozart and Vivaldi.(not!!)
From Tom Holzman
Posted on April 16, 2008 at 6:14 PM
I have seen her live once playing Beethoven sonatas with Lambert Orkis. She is a terrific violinist, but I do not happen to like her interpretations all that much. However, I am glad you enjoyed it so much.
From Terez Mertes
Posted on April 16, 2008 at 6:25 PM
Love everyone's comments - thanks! I, for one, had no idea a musician would ever give more than two encores. I was just cracking up over the energy in the crowd - maybe they knew more than I, that she might do this. Valerie, how interesting to note she did it in Seattle as well. Must be that West Coast air! : )

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.

From Ray Randall
Posted on April 16, 2008 at 7:37 PM
Glad she obliged, that shows class. Too many stars of sports, music, films, whatever, treat their audiences and fans as something to put up with and not the source of their income. Good for ASM.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on April 16, 2008 at 7:42 PM
We had a friend who saw Heifetz do the Beethoven concerto. She said that afterwards, they clapped and clapped to get an encore, and finally someone had to come out and announce that Mr. Heifetz had left the building and was on his way home.
From Terez Mertes
Posted on April 16, 2008 at 9:55 PM
Tom, LOL!! : )

And Ray, you said it!

From Jay Azneer
Posted on April 16, 2008 at 10:03 PM
The Heifetz story pretty much underscores what I think of him. I wouldn't ever want to emulate that.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on April 16, 2008 at 10:44 PM
I have always found ASM to be a fantastic and original artist. Sometimes I love what she doe s, sometimes not so keen but it is never boring or medoiicre
From Nick W.
Posted on April 17, 2008 at 12:40 AM
I thought it was expected that she gave encores because it the recital was on the short side. Where did you sit? I wasn't sure if people at the back of the hall can hear her. A great concert though.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on April 17, 2008 at 12:33 AM
Terez, I don't mean to sound like a snob, but at the Kennedy Center in downtown Washington DC, where I often go for concerts, three encores is not unusual. You can't count on it for any soloist, but we try to make it happen with applause, shouting, and rising to our feet. I've regarded this as a sort of a game: How many encores can we get from the soloist? The most, in my experience, was 7 or 8. By that time I had lost count. The soloist was Lang Lang.

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.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on April 17, 2008 at 2:26 AM
Playing Brahms's Lullaby as her last encore was a stroke of genius.
From Terez Mertes
Posted on April 17, 2008 at 2:59 AM
Pauline, WOW on this comment:
>How many encores can we get from the soloist? The most, in my experience, was 7 or 8.

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!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on April 17, 2008 at 3:15 AM
You're going to think I'm weird, and I wasn't there, and maybe if I had been I'd feel differently . . . but I don't like encores. I have a short attention span, especially late at night. After the first or second one I would have been looking at my watch and wondering how I could make a quick and unobtrusive exit without appearing rude.

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!

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 17, 2008 at 3:40 AM
ASM might be the only fiddler I'd make a real effort to go see. I've only heard some of the Beethoven sonatas from her, but they show so much skill and control. Someone very experienced said her's was her favorite Bartok concerto #2.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on April 17, 2008 at 3:57 AM
Jim, didn't your 'holy smoke!' scared her away from the discussion?:) That was so funny!!

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.

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 17, 2008 at 5:35 AM
I called her up and apologized. We still go out.
From Terez Mertes
Posted on April 17, 2008 at 4:31 PM
Karen, you're weird.
Jim, you're funny.
Yixi, you're welcome (and thanks!).

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.

From Bernadette Hawes
Posted on April 17, 2008 at 7:13 PM
Terez, Your writing is so perfect. There is but one thing missing: the sound of ASM's playing. Oh, how I wish...
That must have been one magical night. Congratulations.
Oh, and please write another blog. Soon. Your book needs to 'rest'. So keep the juices flowing. Pretty please?
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on April 17, 2008 at 7:36 PM
The music critic of the New York Times raves about ASM's all Brahms performance at Carnegie Hall.
From Sydney Menees
Posted on April 18, 2008 at 2:43 AM
I saw this same concert a week ago... AMAZING!!
From Terez Mertes
Posted on April 18, 2008 at 2:46 PM
Bernadette - aww, you're so sweet. Thanks for the nice comments on my writing; helps offset the 99% rejection level I get from editors. I'm at work on the first draft of my fourth novel right now and I must say, this part of novel writing is like having a newborn in the house. Thank goodness the baby DOES sleep from time to time. That's when I run over to write/post a blog here! : )

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....

From Terez Mertes
Posted on April 18, 2008 at 2:52 PM
>The music critic of the New York Times raves about ASM's all Brahms performance at Carnegie Hall.

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. (I'm too lazy to make the link live, sorry!)

From Terez Mertes
Posted on April 18, 2008 at 2:56 PM
Oh, all of you MUST read this WONDERFUL reply to Joshua K's review of ASM's performance. It's better than the review. (And it also supports my experience of her playing.)

I will take the time to make THIS link live. : )

Comments on ASM's performance.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on April 18, 2008 at 3:37 PM
Terez - thanks for the link. Both the review and the reply were interesting. AMS's recitals tend to be memorable because her interpretations are not mainstream (although usually not as far out as Nadia S-S's). I have only seen her Beethoven, which, as I said, I did not particularly like. I have not particularly warmed up to her Mozart recordings either. I would not be surprised if her somewhat unusal style of interpretation were better suited to the Romantic repertoire.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on April 18, 2008 at 3:43 PM
Yikes! I just noticed all the spelling errors. You would think I was studying with Buri.
From Terez Mertes
Posted on April 18, 2008 at 4:16 PM
Funny, Tom! (And I noticed no spelling errors. Does that incriminate me?)

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.)

From Benjamin K
Posted on April 19, 2008 at 6:56 AM
Terez, your description of the recital reminds me of a rock concert I went to many many years ago, it was a British rock group called Status Quo, they had a theatrical routine by which the stage crew would start to remove equipment from the stage while the crowd was cheering for encores. This went on for at least 10 minutes or so and I was about to leave, but a friend who I was with and who knew the routine said "trust me on this, they will come back and play some more". And, indeed, they did come back and played one encore after another, after each of which they crowd would cheer for more.

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.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on April 19, 2008 at 10:24 PM
Great story, Benjamin! : )

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