I have followed the discussions on the Rust of the pros and cons of attending a sporting event or watching it in the comfort of your own home. The same applies to the performing arts. Last night BBC 4 transmitteda the summer concert from the Schonbrunn Palcae in Vienna performed by the Viennese Philarmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta. It was spectacular .
I visited the Palace for the first time last November. It’s quite a sight and did not disappoint. It reflected the glory of the Habsburg Empire that stretched from Netherlands in the west to Russia in the East. The Palace, its statues and facade as well as the gardens were filmed to great effect as back drop to the music. The camera also caught close ups of the musicians and the audience. Some were seated in front of the stage. Others further back were able to watch from a park. It was magical.
Iwas surprised that until the last piece – a Strauss waltz – no traditional Viennese music was played. However both Peer Gynt (Grieg) and Finlandia (Jean Sibelius) are thrilling works for the orchestra. Zubin Mehta is a warm and generous conductor. He does not have the austerity of a Von Karaan, Klemperer or Stokowski. A handsome man he certainly looks the part. These musicians would know these celebrated pieces anyway and in some ways the conductor is the interface between audience and orchestra controlling the tempo and mood. The solo pianist was Buchbinder, slightly affected but reliable enough .
Probably given the choice I would prefer to be present though those that were looked rather cold . Others waltzed in the park at the end to the Strauss piece. However I could not be there and was grateful to appreciate such a fine orchestra playing celebrated works in such palatial surroundings from my tv room.