Prom 74: Ax, Vienna Philharmonic, Tilson Thomas review – elegance without passion

Prom 74: Ax, Vienna Philharmonic, Tilson Thomas review – elegance without passion

Prom 74: Ax, Vienna Philharmonic, Tilson Thomas review – elegance without passion

THE ARTS DESK
SEPTEMBER 9, 2017
BY GAVIN DIXON

*Excerpt*

“I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that Emanuel Ax (pictured below) and Michael Tilson Thomas are long-time collaborators. An intuitive sense of communication between the two was evident throughout the Mozart 14th Piano Concerto, allowing the pianist to make some dramatic tempo and dynamic changes, at a moment’s notice, knowing that the orchestra would always keep step. Similarly, Ax has an approach to Mozart that fits well with the Vienna aesthetic. He plays with a warm tone and a liberal, but well thought out approach to phrasing and rubato. His melodies are elegant and cleanly articulated, his accompaniments warmly sonorous, but no less precise. And Tilson Thomas made real music out of all the accompaniments, tenderly shaping all the string figures, even when the orchestral music was secondary to the piano. Yet Mozart’s direct and melody-focused music never lost its charm, even when presented in these many layers of textural detail.”

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