And no(w) Mozart...
Lots of music... by César Franck, Frédéric Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven, Aleksey Igudesman, Hyung-ki Joo, Bob Marley, Gustav Mahler, Song Way Tsu Long, Vangelis, Maurice Ravel, Steve Reich, but definitely none by Johannes Brahms and only a few bars by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Aleksey Igudesman (violin & acting), Hyung-ki Joo (piano & acting)
A. Igudesman & H. Joo (Courtesy of the Artists)
Spoiler alert! Don't read on if you have tickets for the upcoming tour of Igudesman & Joo's new program "And now Mozart!" The comedy duo opened the 100th Vienna Konzerthaus season with a world-premiere of their brand new show “And now Mozart”. The title could have also been "And no Mozart". Was it a typo, or should one believe the explanation in the program booklet, that the show was planned years in advance and Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo just assumed they would be ready for Mozart this season? Or was it because 1) they like Mozart, 2) he was a composer, 3) he was a very good composer, or 4) Mozart liked fart jokes?
The charismatic duo opened not with Mozart - instead they chose Franck, the one with "ck", not Sinatra. Already in the first bars of the famous César Franck Violin Sonata one could sense the incredible musicianship of violinist Alexsey Igudesman and pianist Hyung-ki Joo. Actually, it would have been a pleasure to just go on listening to them simply perform the Franck sonata. But Igudesman & Joo have never played through a piece in its entirety. They hardly made it past the exposition of the 1st movement, when an audacious photographer showed up and the clowneries took over. After this brilliant show opener Joo made a timid attempt to talk about “Mozart”. We didn’t learn more than that he was a composer, because Joo immediately turned to "And now Brahms" which really was an "And now Chopin". No Mozart in the next number, where poor Joo gets fined for excessive speeding by police officer Igudesman and Philipp Glass, John Adams and Steve Reich all sound the same. Generally speaking, the violin/ piano duo are endeared to contemporary music of any genre. They generously repeated the world premiere of a composition played already last week by the Chinese composer Song Way Tsu Long. It was hilarious and one wondered whether the composer should change his name to Song Way Tsu Short. An Igudesman & Joo program wouldn’t be complete without a homage to Fritz Kreisler. Since classical music apparently is hazardous to the audience’s health, Mr. Igudesman and Mr. Joo, dressed in totally hip (and very tight) gym suits, offered the Viennese public an interactive “Viorobic” session.
Have you ever wondered what goes on in a musician’s brain while he is on stage performing? Hyung-ki Joo gave us an insight into his complex thoughts while performing Schubert’s Wandererfantasie. Adding to the laughter in the audience, the comedy duo laughed their way through an infectious Laughing Song. The most brilliant routine in Igudesman & Joo’s new program was Bach’s Prélude from the E-Major Suite – played with a GPS navigation system. Listening to some violinists today one wonders whether it would be helpful if they also performed with GPS and were warned of “harmonic changes” or “difficult string crossings ahead”…
According to Igudesman & Joo, what music critics and gynecologists have in common is that both look for problems where others have fun. I did have plenty of fun, but must admit to a problem I found: Gustav Mahler’s music is highly resistant to comedy!
There were finally a few bars by Mozart: Igudesman & Joo traditionally close their shows with a relevant version of their “We will survive” routine. For this program it was a Mozart inspired “Urtext” version. This brilliant closing to an extremely successful world-premiere left you wondering, what will be their next program that we will survive laughing at.
The Igudesman und Joo’s Website