Give it a try if… You are not content with uplifting music – what you are looking for is actual levitation.
Steer clear if… As far as you are concerned, the choice is between Mahler or silence.
The universe of classical music is so vast and complex that I can only see myself as a lifelong amateur listener. But I do know that when a celebrated director like Lorin Maazel is in town – which does not happen so often around here – attendance is less suggested than required. His recent performance with the Orchestre de Paris did not only confirm this guideline; it surprisingly unleashed my inner child and reminded me that life is best lived with a touch of informed lightness.
A Wooden Music Box
The venue that hosted the event, the Auditori, is somewhat overshadowed by the older, more illustrious Palau de la Musica and Liceu. Yet I am especially fond of this concert hall; I find its acoustics hard to match and the design of both halls a joy to behold. What a shame that on such a special occasion, the empty seats were a few more than one would expect – I am talking about a 95% full house, but still I wonder what on Earth the missing 5% decided to do instead. Booo!
The Other Side of Shallow
The modern setting proved to be quite suited for this performance, which included four works by Maurice Ravel (including La Valse and Spanish Rhapsody) and a 12-minute piece brought to McDonald’s fame by Disney’s Fantasia: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas. I guess purists might sneer at such a “light” programme, but I dare say the execution clarified the point against any snobbish bias. From my point of view Maazel chose to go for pure form – but then, in an unexpected twist, he crossed through to the other side of shallow taking the audience along by the hand… Until his eccentric selection revealed a refreshing vitality.
A Sophisticated Playground
From Ravel’s delicate suite Ma Mère L’Oye, inspired by Charles Perrault’s and other fairy tales, to Dukas’s spectacular symphonic poem, I cherished the sight of this 81-year-old “apprentice” summoning the spirit of childhood with the support of the effective orchestra. I turned off my mind and joined the celebration, unencumbered by useless egotism – except for solo violinist Philippe Aïche, whom I would mention as the only weak spot (though I must confess I find it easier to relate to other instruments). What a glorious evening!
UPS (Utmost Perfection Score): 8+/10