Monday, October 27, 2003

Sandow on Mozart, Me on Mozart

A few days ago, Greg Sandow discussed clapping, taking Mozart as example.

Yesterday on Arte (it's a Franco-German somewhat high-brow cultural channel) I caught, purely by accident, Mozart's piano concerto number 20 played by Piotr Anderszewski and the Warsaw symphony. Anderszewski conducted it himself. I wouldn't normally have watched it, but these past few weeks I've been hearing a fair bit of Mozart on the radio in the car and finding I greatly enjoy it. Also, it made me think about two issues: clapping protocol and watching classical music on TV, which I think I read something about in the NY Times.

There was one point, during either the first or last movement, when the orchestra came back after a long, virtuosic and exciting stretch of solo piano that I clapped in front of my TV. I'm not quite sure what my reaction would have been, had I been in the room. Also, I found the silence (actually, coughing and chair scraping) between movements extremely artificial and even tense and uncomfortable. How can anyone prefer that to brief applause? I certainly felt like clapping.

As for the televisual aspect, I enjoyed that too. There was the visual effect of Piotr Anderszewski shifting between conducting and playing: there was a quasi-magical moment when his fingers seemed to drift off the keys, to continue playing not the piano but the orchestra. Also, he really seemed to be enjoying himself, but not at all in an exuberant way: sometimes just a slight raising of an eyebrow seemed to be totally in sync with the music. Finally, some nice camera work focussed on his hands, showing his beautifully relaxed style.

Another issue Sandow has been commenting on is classical music dress code. Anderszewski was dressed in all black, but wore a relaxed turtle-neck, whereas the orchestra (or what I saw of it) was more formal. Anderszewski's relaxed approach worked well with his overall demeanour, I thought.