In an earlier blog, I mentioned that I love to
imagine "Composers’ dinner parties" and wonder whether they will find
pleasure in each other’s company, let alone like each other’s music.
The fun, of course, is to invite those who would otherwise never have
been able to meet in "real life".
The last concert was a perfect case of 4 composers who never
met, 3 of whom had much in common + 1 who might (uncommonly) remain
The obvious two guests who felt close to each other were Hindemith & Wagner. The young Hindemith and the old Wagner
exchanged compliments (in their native tongue) and went into a long
discussion of the merits of the "total artistic experience", in
particular when music is an integral part of Opera (Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman) and Ballet (Hindemith’s Nobilissima Visione). Both composers stressed the expressive impact of their music, the great sound of a full orchestra (they loved the PSO!) and their inspiration of great dramas. When Debussy arrived, the conversation changed to French but the philosophy of "Program Music" remained the common motif. Debussy’s La mer,
although not based on a dramatic story, insisted on visual images of
the sea by naming each movement as a description of a seascape. The
conversation moved on, comparing Hindemith’s hero, St. Francis, to Wagner’s
sinner, the Dutch sea-captain (did these composers reveal their alter
ego?…), followed by the art of expressing the power of the sea (Wagner) and the impression of the playfulness of the sea (Debussy). Wagner was very impressed with Debussy’s orchestration and the employment & juxtaposition of brass & harp! (It was so very touching to observe how kind & generous Wagner can be to his fellow composers…)
They all agreed that Yan Pascal Tortelier, with his unique conducting style added to the drama. A feast of sound and vision.
So, how did Mozart fit in? Well, he was still young, (his
operas were still to come) and although never shy, at this party he
was not in the mood for words. He just wished to play. His 5th Violin Concerto was pure music. No suggestions of visions or drama–just musical notes… The virtuoso soloist: Nikolaj Znader cast a magical spell… Hindemith, Wagner and Debussy retired
to the parlor and listen with increasing joy (and a little sadness…)
to Mozart’s music. Without saying a word, they contemplated their
legacy: They knew that they all are pillars of classical music but will
we celebrate their 250th birthday ?