Live Music: CSO and Johannes Moser

Johannes MoserOur favorite conductor Jeffrey Kahane has a substitute again, who announces only that Jeffrey is ill. We miss him, and worry that it must be serious. Not only because we’ve been looking forward to his scheduled performances of Beethoven’s piano concertos for a year, but also having witnessing him become a singular human vessel for the music he loves I’m saddened to think that the world might lose him.

The introductory pieces only heighten the feeling, they seem pleasant and pretty but without life. That impression comes to an abrupt halt when Johannes Moser takes the stage with his cello. Something about him makes me pay attention. I’ve never heard this Elgar cello concerto, and it has some electricity to it. Moser creates more and more charge as he plays. I might consider him a showboat with his pronounced expressions and gestures, but he seems to be putting so much energy and precision into the music that my critical mind is silenced. Several times he makes eye contact while he plays, which makes my already quick pulse jump again. It’s a feeling near to panic, like he’s shooting the music directly into my bloodstream. When piece ends we instantly rise to our feet and demand an encore. I expect something short and showy, but instead Moser soothes us with a lyrical, assuring J.S. Bach piece. I’m impressed, so much so that I coast through the entire Mendelssohn symphony that follows in a reverie, letting the movements come in like the tide to wash the concerto away, eddies and echoes receding.

The program:

  • Fantasia on Greensleeves, Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • The Walk to the Paradise Garden, Frederic Delius
  • Cello Concerto in E minor, Opus 85, Edward Elgar
  • Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Opus 56, “Scottish”, Felix Mendelssohn

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