Today's Classical Music Video

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Franz Welser-Möst Conducts Suppé

Usually, when I choose a video to post in this space I am choosing a conductor and/or performance I admire. But not always. He who likes everything is probably not very discriminating. And besides, we can learn something from what we don't like too. A case in point is this performance of Suppé's Light Cavalry Overture by Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra. The Cleveland Orchestra has a long history of excellence and I particularly admired the George Szell era. His successors, Lorin Maazel and Christoph von Dohnanyi both maintained the standard of playing although neither one had Szell's sense of style. The current music director is Franz Welser-Möst and he has been garnering rave reviews for his work all over the world. I grant that he rivals Szell in his attention to detail but rarely comes close to Szell's power and excitement. In fact, his work strikes me as generally emotionally neutral. This video is a case in point. This is not profound music. But it is, in a good performance, exciting and entertaining. Not here. Welser-Möst is primarily concerned with carefully balancing the orchestra - heaven forbid that brass and percussion overwhelm the strings. Even the members of the Cleveland Orchestra don't seem to be terribly involved in the music. In short, in spite of the quality - or should I say "correctness" of the playing - this performance doesn't come close to capturing the spirit of the music.

 Paul E. Robinson



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