The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

1 January 2020

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra visited Boston last month for a concert appearance at Symphony Hall, and lived up to its reputation as one of the premier orchestras in the world today. The program included two relatively recent compositions, including Anton Bruck-ner’s Symphony #4 in E-Flat Major, and Anton Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra, Opus 6. Claudio Abbado conducted the all-male ensemble, and unlike more flamboyant conductors, he did not move excessively, distracting the audience from the music, but instead led the orchestra firmly, vivaciously, and with careful attention to the balance of the group, in an unobtrusive manner. The orchestra members played together in every sense of the word; for example, often looking at each other when playing a duet passage, the violin and viola players worked together as a unit. Not everybody in the audience enjoyed the concert, however. The Webern piece prompted one woman near me to say, “They had to come all the way from Vienna to play that?” Nevertheless, the difficulty that some of the audience had in enjoying the performance probably stemmed from the complicated harmonies in Webern’s composition rather than in the interpretation by the orchestra, because the orchestra received a resounding ovation from the full audience after the Bruckner symphony ended the concert. The long awaited and highly successful visit by the Vienna Philharmonic will hopefully prompt a second visit from this exceptional group, whose blend of musicianship and skill merit a second hearing, soon. n

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