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Muti in Paris

Théâtre des Champs Elysées
04/07/2000 -  
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart : 10e Serenade " Grand Partita "
Johannes Brahms : 1e Serenade op. 11

French National Radio Orchestra, Riccardo Muti (conductor)

For his regular visit to conduct the French National Radio Orchestra, Muti had chosen a very original programme. None of these works are serenades in the true sense: the Mozart work is not a light work but a genuine masterpiece. The Brahms, although his first big orchestral piece, shows glimpses of his symphonies. None are frequent concert pieces yet deserve to be more frequently heard.

Muti has always had a special way with Mozart. At the opposite of conductors like Walter or Giulini, he favours swift tempi and never allows the music to linger. His Mozart is muscular and lean, light and sunny. The Brahms was a superb vehicle that allowed him to display his virtuosity.

There are very few conductors who can match his control over an orchestra. Tempis, coloration, balances, rubato, attacks : nothing is left to chance with him. Everything is the result of deep scrutiny coupled with hard work. All the orchestras I have heard him conduct reach heights in clarity and precision and achieve unusual levels of coherence and musicality. If sometimes, his approach leads to a certain coolness, this is amply compensated by the care with which he manages to maintain a singing line. Many modern conductors like to make all instruments audible. Muti does it as well but not to point out details for their own sake but to build and maintain the overall line. All notes have a meaning. One feels that under him, individual players are suddenly aware of what the others are doing. They better understand what they have to do to ensure that the music develops. The French National Radio played superbly for him. I do not recall them playing at this level ever. This is a good sign for next season’s Schumann cycle with the same artists.

Antoine Leboyer



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