Tassilo Probst, Jean Sautereau, Yilan Zhao
Oliver Schnyder, Daniel Hope / ZKO
Bach, Bruch, Mozart

Orpheum Foundation
Tonhalle am See, Zurich, 2024-03-19

4-star rating

2024-03-29 — Original posting

Ein Orpheum-Konzert mit drei Jungtalente und drei Doppelkonzerten — Zusammenfassung

Der Schweizer Pianist Oliver Schnyder (*1973) hat gerade die künstlerische Leitung der Orpheum-Stiftung zur Förderung junger Solisten übernommen. Gegensatz zu seinem Vorgänger Howard Griffiths tritt er (noch?) nicht als Dirigent, sondern als Solist auf. Und man darf davon ausgehen, dass er mit seinem Wirken andere Akzente in der Stiftungsarbeit setzen wird. Dieses Konzert wartete jedenfalls mit einigen “Firsts” auf. Zum ersten Mal arbeitete die Stiftung mit dem Zürcher Kammerorchester (ZKO), unter der Leitung des Geigers Daniel Hope (*1973) zusammen. Zudem wurde das Konzert gleich dreimal aufgeführt: in Bern, in Chur, und schließlich in der Tonhalle am See in Zürich. Im weiteren traten nicht wie bisher üblich zwei, sondern gleich drei junge MusikerInnen auf, in Doppelkonzerten aus Barock, Klassik, und Romantik.

Das Konzert

Daniel Hope und das ZKO eröffneten das Konzert mit dem Divertimento in D-dur, KV 136 von Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Das erste der Doppelkonzerte war ein Werk von Johann Sebastian Bach—das bekannte Konzert für zwei Violinen in d-moll, BWV 1043. Die Solisten: der junge deutsche Geiger Tassilo Probst (*2002), sowie Daniel Hope an der zweiten Violine. Es folgte ein Sprung in die Romantik mit dem Doppelkonzert für Klarinette, Viola und Orchester in e-moll, op.88 vom Max Bruch, in der Fassung für Violine, Viola und Orchester. Die Soli spielten der französische Bratschist Jean Sautereau (*1996) und Daniel Hope an der Violine. Ein selten gespieltes Werk, in dem der Bratschist den charaktervollen Klang seines Instruments hervorragend zur Geltung bringen konnte. Im letzten Satz löste sich der Wirbel der C-Saite löste. Jean Sautereau musste unvermittelt seine Viola mit der des ersten Bratschisten tauschen. Dies tat dem Konzerterlebnis jedoch keinen Abbruch.

Der letzte Teil des Konzertabends, nach der Pause, schlug einen Bogen zurück zu Mozart, mit dem bekannten Konzert für zwei Klaviere und Orchester in Es-dur, KV 365. Hier spielte die Chinesin Yilan Zhao (*1995) am ersten Flügel, während Oliver Schnyder den “Secondo” Part übernahm. Es war der musikalische Höhepunkt des Abends, vor allem im entspannten Mittelsatz. Ein gelungener Start in die “Ära Schnyder” der Orpheum-Stiftung!

Table of Contents


Venue, Date & TimeTonhalle am See, Zurich, 2024-03-19 19:30h
Series / TitleYoung Soloists On Stage — Orpheum Foundation
OrganizerOrpheum Foundation for the Support of Young Artists
Reviews from Related EventsEarlier Concerts organized by the Orpheum Foundation
The Zürcher Kammerorchester in Concert | in Media Reviews
Oliver Schnyder in Concert | in Media Reviews
Daniel Hope in Concert

Orpheum Foundation: A New Era

At the end of 2023, Swiss pianist Oliver Schnyder (*1973, see also Wikipedia) took over as Artistic Director of the Orpheum Foundation for the Support of Young Artists. His predecessor in this role was the conductor Howard Griffiths (*1950, see also Wikipedia). Griffiths conducted his “Farewell Concert” with the Foundation on 2023-10-21. Oliver Schnyder’s primary role as musician is that of pianist. Hence, for this first concert, he did not conduct, but rather joined the young artists as co-soloist.

Naturally, Oliver Schnyder brings changes to the Foundation’s activities. This first concert under his artistic direction brought several “firsts”:

  • For the first time, the Foundation collaborated with the Zurich Chamber Orcherstra (Zürcher Kammerorchester / ZKO, see also Wikipedia).
  • The concert didn’t just feature the usual two young soloists, but three. These were joined by violinist Daniel Hope and the Foundation’s artistic director, Oliver Schnyder, at the piano.
  • The concert featured three double concertos (two violins, violin and viola, two pianos)
  • The concert in Zurich’s Tonhalle followed performances in Chur and in Bern. The Zurich event was recorded by the Swiss Radio SRF 2 Kultur, for broadcast two weeks later, on 2024-04-02.
Orpheum Concert 2024-03-19: Yilan Zhao, Oliver Schnyder, Daniel Hope / ZKO (© Thomas Entzeroth)
Orpheum Concert 2024-03-19: Yilan Zhao, Oliver Schnyder, Daniel Hope / ZKO (© Thomas Entzeroth)

The Artists

The ZKO was founded in 1945 and remained under the direction of its founder, Edmond de Stoutz (1920 – 1997) up till 1996. For the next 10 years, Howard Griffiths stood at the helm of the orchestra. For 5 years (2006 – 2011), Muhai Tang (*1949) was artistic director. He was followed by Sir Roger Norrington (*1934), who conducted the ensemble till 2016. Since then, the South African-born violinist Daniel Hope (*1973 in Durban, see also Wikipedia) has been leading the orchestra, either as soloist, or operating from the first desk. Daniel Hope performs on the 1742 “Ex-Lipinski” violin by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù (1698 – 1744).

I’m introducing the young soloists in the context of their respective pieces / performances below:


The printed program showed the Mozart Divertimento (K.126) after the intermission. However, in the introductory remarks, the radio presenter announced that the piece had been moved to the beginning of the program. This made sense: this way, the intermission could be used to prepare the stage for Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos (K.365).

Setting, etc.

As usual for the concerts organized by the Orpheum Foundation, the event was sold very well—the hall looked quite full. My seat was in row 13 of the stalls, near the right edge of the hall (second to last row in the right-hand front block in the parquet seating). In terms of acoustics and visibility, this is among the best seats in the hall.

The photos below were kindly provided by the Orpheum Foundation. Photo credit: Thomas Entzeroth (photo selection: Orpheum Foundation). As part of the radio broadcast recording, the soloists were interviewed in the foyer during the intermission. Some of the photos are from that interview session.

Concert & Review

Unlike all the Orpheum concerts I have attended in the past, the evening did not begin with extended, formal introductions and speeches – the “signature” of the foundation’s new artistic director, Oliver Schnyder? The abolition of old rituals may allow for a fresh start. Or was this because in the past, on rare occasions, some (rude) members of the audience expressed their dissatisfaction when the presentations seemed too long? I think there is indeed no need for the Foundation to present itself in extenso at every concert. However, major sponsors and patrons deserve to be mentioned, though. Perhaps the “compact format” was chosen because the concert was recorded for radio?

Valerio Benz, music journalist and presenter at Swiss Radio SRF 2 Kultur, gave a brief introduction. Unfortunately, he seemed to speak mostly into his headset, and in a rather colloquial tone. This was adequate for a radio presentation, but difficult to understand in the live audience, even from my acoustically favorable position. That’s a minor problem, though, since much of the introduction dealt with the recording of the concert for the radio

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart c. 1780
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart: Divertimento in D major, K.136 (125a), “Salzburg Symphony No.1”

Composer & Work

This is one of a series of three Divertimenti (entertainment music) that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) composed 1772 – 1785. I have written about this in earlier concert reports. So here, I’m just giving the list of the movements for the first one of these Divertimenti (which often run under the guise of string quartets), Divertimento in D major, K.136 (125a), “Salzburg Symphony No.1”:

  1. Allegro
  2. Andante
  3. Presto

The Performance

It’s been quite a while (almost 6 years, actually!) since my last live encounter with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. It was certainly interesting to see if, how, and how much the orchestra has evolved over the past years.

The first glance at the stage was a pleasant surprise even before the musicians took the podium. Not only were all the high strings standing (at least until the intermission), but all the musicians were now playing from tablets instead of paper / sheet music. This improved the visibility of the orchestra, avoided the disruption/distraction of page flipping, but also promised a livelier performance and closer interaction between the musicians.

To me, the Mozart Divertimento was an opportunity to catch up with the “status” of the ZKO today—before the focus wandered off towards the soloists. And these were my impressions:

I. Allegro

The ZKO, as I remember it, often liked to show off its virtuosity. And so, Daniel Hope launched into the movement with a sporty tempo. Yes, it was light, playful, and fast—to the point where the coordination was far from perfect. The free movement of the standing musicians, Daniel Hope’s vivid, abundant body gestures created a lively, vibrant impression—fresh, joyful.

Yes, the coordination was far from perfect, the tempo sometimes felt pushed, and one could notice some superficialities. This was perhaps not only a consequence of the fast pace, but likely also the price to be paid for the vivacity, the freedom of movement. And for the absence of a conductor with a baton and direct supervision. On the other hand, one could argue that for a lighthearted opening, perfection is not the primary objective: freshness and joy should prevail.

II. Andante

Here, the tempo was a proper Andante. Yet, it felt relatively fluid, leaving little time to lean back and indulge in calm and serenity, occasionally even making the tempo feel “driven”. Still, there were also subtle moments, such as the long a” in the first violins in bars 9 – 11 (d”’ in the second part), which Daniel Hope let sneak in very, very gently. Throughout the movement, the orchestra was very careful and conscientious with its dynamics.

III. Presto

The Presto is light and cheerful—but not without serious challenges, such as the demisemiquaver chains in the second violin. Here, the orchestra degraded this movement to a virtuosic showpiece, lacking clarity, diligence, and detail, often superficial in demisemiquaver figures—overly driven, even a bit careless? The orchestra can do better than this!

Rating: ★★★½

Johann Sebastian Bach, ca. 1722
Johann Sebastian Bach

Bach: Concerto in D minor for 2 violins, strings & continuo, BWV 1043

Composer & Work

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) composed the Concerto in D minor for 2 violins, strings & continuo, BWV 1043 around 1730—one of several concertos he wrote for the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig. To this day, it is one of Bach’s most popular instrumental / orchestral works (just look at the endless list of recordings in the Wikipedia entry!). The work features three movements:

  1. Vivace
  2. Largo ma non tanto
  3. Allegro

The Soloists: Tassilo Probst and Daniel Hope

Orpheum Concert 2024-03-19: Tassilo Probst (© Thomas Entzeroth)
Tassilo Probst (© Thomas Entzeroth)

With Bach’s Double Concerto, the Foundation present the youngest one of the three Orpheum soloists, the German Tassilo Probst, born 2002 in Munich. The violinist began learning the violin at the age of 4, using the Suzuki method. His progress on the instrument must have been rapid, as he soon made his first public appearances. After an early entrance into the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich, he received his bachelor degree at the age of 19. He is currently continuing his studies with Linus Roth (*1977) at the Leopold Mozart Centre in Augsburg, Germany. In the course of his education, he also attended master classes with Zakhar Bron (*1947), as well as with Daniel Hope, as well as with numerous other artists. For more information, please visit the artist’s Website.

Tassilo Probst also plays saxophone and piano. Here, he performed on a 1690 violin by the Milanese luthier Giovanni Grancino (1637 – 1709)m which he received as a loan after his success at the 2017 competition of the German Musical Instrument Fund (administered by the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben).

For this concerto, Daniel Hope (who has known Tassilo Probst since childhood) stepped into the center stage as second violinist. Formally, the orchestra was now led by its concertmaster, Willi Zimmermann. Of course, Daniel Hope continued to interact with the orchestra, both visually and through gestures.

The Performance

Some general remarks about the orchestra first: Bach’s Double Concerto confirmed, even reinforced some of the impressions from the Mozart Divertimento. The ensemble was too big / massive (6+6 violins, 4 violas, 3 cellos, 2 double basses, if my count was correct) for the concerto (especially in the bass). In addition, given today’s ubiquitous and competent historically informed performances, the orchestral interpretation felt unencumbered by HIP influences.

Somehow, the performance reminded me of the “olden days”, when the orchestra offered “Baroque mainstream” under the direction of its founder, Edmond de Stoutz. In case this statement sounds exaggerated: later that week, in reference to this concert, the name of the founder was spontaneously and independently mentioned to me by a competent person. So, I’m not alone with this opinion. A disappointing departure from the days when Howard Griffiths and (even more) Sir Roger Norrington led the ensemble. However, it may well be that financial / economic pressure forced the ensemble to make concessions to an older, more conservative audience?

I. Vivace

I could not say that the performance lacked musicality and passion for music. However, the articulation was rather broad, and the soundscape lacked lightness and transparency, especially with the massive bass register. Conciseness and detailed articulation were sacrificed in favor of an often massive, undifferentiated, if not careless commonplace interpretation.

With the entry of the soloists, it turned out that the tempo (once again!) was too fast. This time, it wasn’t so much the coordination that suffered. Rather, the performance felt overly driven and summary, precluding differentiation in articulation, let alone traces of Klangrede, expression in the dialog between the two solo instruments. Of course, the soloists mastered their parts effortlessly (the concerto isn’t technically demanding). I was pleased to see that Daniel Hope carefully controlled the sonority of his Guarneri violin, taking a back seat so as not to overpower Tassilo Probst’s part.

II. Largo ma non tanto

An overly romantic / romanticized interpretation, laden with vibrato and over-expressive dynamics, and far too much orchestral sonority. “Anti-HIP”, and also lacking intimacy in the dialog between the two solo violins. On top of that, the harpsichordist abused many of the soft segments (especially solo dialogs!) to turn this into a harpsichord concerto, with excessive, rich (and often not really fitting) ornaments, passages, figurations. Shouldn’t the continuo mainly add rhythmic contours and a harmonic foundation?

III. Allegro

Not to my surprise, also the Allegro was too fast (especially for the size of the ensemble). Full of joy of playing and enthusiasm, sure—but also rest- and relentless. In case the artists judged the composition as being too harmless, they should have selected different repertoire, rather than trying to turn this into a virtuoso piece.

Rating: ★★★½

An interpretation from 40, 50 years ago—enthralling at the surface, romantic in the slow movement—but … too superficial. However, I don’t want to blame this on the young soloist, but rather on the orchestra and its leader(s). Clearly, Tassilo Probst was far from being able to exploit his technical and expressive potential at the violin. As a proof, check out his recently released CD set with early 20th century works, see below.

Max Bruch
Max Bruch

Bruch: Double Concerto for violin, viola and orchestra in E minor, op.88

Composer & Work

The German composer, violinist, teacher, and conductor Max Bruch (1838 – 1920) is primarily known for his Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, op.26 (1866 – 1868) Already at the composer’s lifetime, this became one of the most popular romantic violin concertos—and it has remained popular to this day. This overshadowed his two other violin concertos. Among his orchestral works, only the Scottish Fantasy, for violin and orchestra in E major, op.46 (1880), as well as the Kol Nidrei, for cello and orchestra, op.47 (1881) have retained popular presence in today’s concert repertoire. The Double Concerto for clarinet (violin), viola and orchestra in E minor, op.88 is a late work from 1911. Originally written for clarinet, viola, and orchestra, Bruch himself adapted the work for violin, viola, and orchestra, as well as for clarinet (violin), viola, and piano.

  1. Andante con moto
  2. Allegro moderato
  3. Allegro molto

According to Wikipedia, all three movements refer to the same Swedish folksong “Ack Värmeland Du Sköna“.

The Soloists: Jean Sautereau and Daniel Hope

Orpheum Concert 2024-03-19: Jean Sautereau (© Thomas Entzeroth)
Jean Sautereau (© Thomas Entzeroth)

The second Orpheum-soloist in this concert was the French violist Jean Sautereau (*1996). He started playing the viola when he was 8, winning the first prize at a national competition in Lempdes just three years after that. In 2010, he entered the regional conservatory in Boulogne-Billancourt. Prestigeous prizes followerd: the first prize at the Concours national des Jeunes Altistes, two years later again the first prize at an international competition (Concours international des Clés d’or).

Meanwhile, he moved to the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (CNSMDP), studying with David Gaillard (*1973) and Nicolas Bône. Around that time, Gérard Caussé (*1948) became an important mentor for the artist. Jean Sautereau has since successfully launched an international career, both as soloist, as well as chamber musician. Jean Sautereau performs on a 2017 viola by the luthier Charles Coquet (*1976), Paris.

In this concert, Jean Sautereau played Max Bruch’s Double Concerto for clarinet, viola, and orchestra in E minor, op.88, in the composer’s own transcription for violin, viola, and orchestra. For that alternate first solo part, Jean Sautereau was joined by the violinist Daniel Hope and his Guarneri del Gesù.

The Performance

Just to state the obvious, for those who know or have heard the original clarinet / viola version of this double concerto: substituting a violin for the solo clarinet causes a major shift, both in character and in relative weight (balance). In the original version for clarinet and viola, the wind instrument clearly dominates over the viola. In the alternative version, the violin is much more of an equal partner to the viola, both in volume and in character / sonority. Because the clarinet’s tonal range exceeds that of the violin in the lowest register, Bruch needed to move up some sections by an octave.

I. Andante con moto

It was the Orpheum Soloist, Jean Sautereau at the viola, who opened the concerto with wide-ranging, ascending figures, showcasing the instrument’s beautiful, warm and characterful sonority, well-balanced across the range. When the violin echoed this opening, Daniel Hope was able to bring out the volume and power of his Guarneri. Since the violin is typically an octave or more above the viola, the two instruments could easily stand side by side. There are also passages where the two instruments compete in similar ranges—and again, Daniel Hope was careful to leave enough “space” for the viola.

At “B“, the violin introduces the Swedish folk tune—very expressive, melancholic, if not sad. For my taste, Daniel Hope’s vibrato was a bit too romantic, i.e., too strong. Shouldn’t folk songs be simpler, more “down to earth”, rather than artistically exaggerated? When Jean Sautereau echoed the melody, his vibrato felt more natural and harmonious. Bruch’s melodies seemed to allude to Antonín Dvořák (1841 – 1904)—Slavonic elements in this folk song, or rather Nordic gloom? Certainly beautiful cantilenas, full of warmth, finally fading away into a quiet, wistful ending in E major.

The Zurich Chamber Orchestra proved to be more than adequate, both in terms of style and volume. Based on the three interpretations so far, the orchestra seemed to be well-suited, even “at home” with late romantic works (as opposed to early classical or even baroque music), offering a warm, rounded, harmonious soundscape.

II. Allegro moderato

In terms of tempo annotations or metronome numbers (here: 3/4,♩=120), Bruch’s Double Concerto has no slow movement. Yet, the Allegro moderato takes up the calm atmosphere of the end of the first movement, peacefully pulsating in entire bars. The quaver figures (later quaver triplets) feel like ornamental transitions between the heartbeats. Jean Sautereau and Daniel Hope engaged in a beautiful, intimate dialog / interplay that nicely exposed the considerable differences in timbre between the two instruments. Daniel Hope’s Guarneri offered lucid, if not ethereal, heights, romantically charged with vibrato and portamenti (hard to imagine that this was originally written for clarinet!). Jean Sautereau’s viola, on the other hand, with its characterful, earthy tone at times seemed to pretend to come from a cello’s descant register.

The middle section modulates from G major to B minor: time for the Swedish folk song again, intense, expressive, urging even, with gentle pizzicato accompaniment from the orchestra. The melodies in this movement may not be as catchy as those in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, op.26 (which the composer ultimately hated for its excessive popularity). Nevertheless, the Allegro moderato is a beautiful invention.

III. Allegro molto

The final movement is joyful, virtuosic, enthralling, from the initial fanfares to the affirmative E major ending. Allusions to the Swedish folk song mainly appear in the central E minor section, where the mood momentarily darkens. The orchestra and soloists seemed to enjoy the performance, and the playing of both soloists was effortless and engaged.

There was one distraction, though: midway through the movement, in the midst of all the action, the C-string tuning peg on Jean Sautereau’s viola came loose. Without hesitation, the violist turned around and exchanged his instrument for that of the orchestra’s first violist (who now had to deal with a loose string). Jean Sautereau instantly adapted to the new instrument. However, the substitute clearly could not compete in character and volume with the violist’s own instrument. Congratulations on the quick reaction and adjustment!

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart c. 1780
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart: Concerto for 2 pianos and orchestra in E♭ major, K.365

Composer & Work

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) wrote 27 piano concertos. Among these, the “piano concerto No.10” actually is the Concerto for 2 pianos and orchestra in E♭ major, K.365 (316a). The history of this concerto is not entirely clear—however, current research indicates that it was written between 1775 and 1779. Mozart must have written it to play with his sister Maria Anna (“Nannerl”), though he later also performed it with his pupil Josepha Barbara Auernhammer (1758 – 1820). The three movements are

  1. Allegro (4/4)
  2. Andante (3/4)
  3. Rondeau: Allegro (2/4)
Orpheum Concert 2024-03-19: Yilan Zhao, Oliver Schnyder, ZKO (© Thomas Entzeroth)
Orpheum Concert 2024-03-19: Yilan Zhao, Oliver Schnyder, ZKO (© Thomas Entzeroth)

The Soloists: Yilan Zhao and Oliver Schnyder

For the last part of the concert, the Chinese pianist Yilan Zhao (born in 1995 in Hunan) took the stage, together with the Orpheum Foundation’s new Artistic Director, the Swiss pianist Oliver Schnyder (*1973). Yilan Zhao started her professional piano education at the age of 10 at the Pre-College of Wuhan Conservatory of Music in Wuhan, Hubei, China. In 2011, she entered the Juilliard School in New York, where she studied with the Korean-born pianist Choong-Mo Kang (*1961). In 2014, Yilan Zhao switched to the Taiwan-born teacher Hung-Kuan Chen (*1958), graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2018. That same year, she completed her education, studying with Konstantin Scherbakov (*1963) at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), and graduating with the Soloist Diploma in 2022.

The Performance

In Mozart’s K.365, the center of the stage was of course occupied by the two Steinway D-274 concert grands, facing each other. For this part of the concert, the orchestra was seated, with Daniel Hope returning to his primus inter pares position at the first desk.

The absence of a conductor necessitated the removal of the lid from the rear (primo) instrument as well, allowing for visual interaction between the musicians in the orchestra. This had the additional, big advantage that the audience did not receive the “full blast” from the two instruments. Rather, their sound reached the audience more indirectly, resulting in a lighter and brighter sonority. To say that this brought the sound closer that of Mozart’s time would be a gross exaggeration. But it certainly helped the acoustic balance between the solos and the orchestra. Naturally, Yilan Zhao took the left/back primo position, with Oliver Schnyder in the front/right secondo role.

I. Allegro

Immediately after the opening fanfare, I noticed a familiar phenomenon: the feeling of a sporty, pushed tempo. Objectively, the pace may not have been all that fast. However, already the three upbeat quavers in the first violins in bars 4 & 6 sounded superficial, rushed. Consequently, the small note values often seemed to lack rhythmic conciseness and clarity, the coordination could have been better. To some degree, this also affected the joint entry of the two soloists. Afterwards, there were several instances where Yilan Zhao introduced a theme in a solo—and immediately the performance felt a tad more relaxed, more lyrical. When Oliver Schnyder took over, the pace seemed to return to the original one. Also, in sections where the two pianists exchanged motifs in a dialog, they often seemed to fire up each other, gradually accelerating.

These remarks are not meant to be overly critical—I am talking about nuances. And sure, the forward drive added tension, excitement—and one could rightly argue that a slight push is preferable to a performance that loses tension and falls behind in tempo. Most importantly: the two soloists engaged in joyful, highly engaged collaboration. Both were always alert, and flawless in transitions and coordination: a joy to watch and listen to! Particularly admirable was the subtle interplay, the attuned agogics in longer solo passages, and especially in the cadenza. Well done!

II. Andante

Harmonious, delightful cooperation between the soloists (very subtle in the agogics!), as well as between soloists and orchestra, and everything was well balanced. And the interplay between soloists and oboes: heavenly! A beautiful, beautiful movement: serene, relaxed—the highlight of the evening!

III. Rondeau: Allegro

Unfortunately, much of this movement fell victim to an excessive tempo: the annotation is Allegro, not Presto! The soloists certainly mastered the tempo—they both have sufficient technical ability and reserves. However, there was no time for differentiation in agogics and articulation, nor was the listener given the opportunity to indulge in the details, the richness of Mozart’s music. Some of the piano episodes stood out favorably, though—especially the one beginning in bar 142, which offered playfulness and serenity, escaping the general forward thrust.

It is a pity that this movement—especially the refrain / Rondeau theme—was driven to the point where coordination and clarity often began to suffer. Wouldn’t it have been better to end the concerto (and the evening) in a playful atmosphere, rather than seeking effect by trying to produce a virtuosic showpiece, a “last dance”?

Overall Rating: ★★★★½


Not surprisingly, the encore was the Rondeau from Mozart’s K.365—a “safe value” with the audience, well suited for a “last dance”—and avoiding a change in style and spirit for the closure. And the audience certainly liked it!

Orpheum Concert 2024-03-19: Oliver Schnyder, Yilan Zhao, Daniel Hope / ZKO (© Thomas Entzeroth)
Orpheum Concert 2024-03-19: Oliver Schnyder, Yilan Zhao, Daniel Hope / ZKO (© Thomas Entzeroth)

A CD Album featuring Tassilo Probst

Tassilo Probst & Maxim Lando: Bartók, Enescu, Achron (CD cover)

“Into Madness”

Béla Bartók (1881 – 1945): Sonata for Violin and Piano in E minor, op.posth., Sz.20, BB 28
Georges Enescu (1881 – 1955): Sonata for Violin and Piano No.3 in A minor, op.25
Joseph Yulyevich Achron (1886 – 1943): Sonata for Violin and Piano No.2, op.45

Tassilo Probst, violin
Maxim Lando, piano

Berlin Classics / Edel Kultur / BR Klassik 0302767BC (2 CDs, stereo, ℗ / © 2022)

Tassilo Probst & Maxim Lando: Bartók, Enescu, Achron (CD, EAN-13 barcode)
amazon media link

I can’t and won’t discuss this recording in detail in the context of this review. Just this much: here, Tassilo Probst collaborates with the American pianist Maxim Lando (*2002, see also Wikipedia)—a fascinating artist whom I witnessed in concert about a year ago. The repertoire of the album is shown above. I listened to the recording on a streaming platform and can recommend it. Based on this superficial experience, I have only one minor quibble: In the second movement of Joseph Achron’s sonata, the piano’s tuning shows clear deficiencies in fff chords that reach out to the extremes of the keyboard. Having experienced the virtuosic power that Maxim Lando can unleash, I’m not surprised!

A Personal Postscriptum

(Translated from the German text below with the help of Deepl)

The Context

I have been reviewing concerts for almost 10 years now—an activity I was invited to pursue. On my own, the frequency and intensity of my reviews would never have reached the levels of the pre-pandemic years. Nevertheless, it’s a job that I enjoy and that musicians and promoters seem to appreciate. My concert reviews are based on the notes I take during the concert. I consider it essential to record my immediate impressions, especially in works with which I am not so familiar.

Using a Score

  • Except for contemporary works, I also use the score while listening. I don’t do this to check, note by note, whether what I hear is what is written in the score (this is hardly possible in a concert). Rather, the score allows me to listen in more detail and with greater intensity.
  • In the early years, I always went to concerts with pocket scores. Occasionally (rarely) I experienced that the people sitting next to me felt considerably disturbed by the leafing through the score. Not least for this reason (but also because it is much easier and more convenient), I switched to transferring the scores to my iPad seven years ago. This not only means I have significantly less “baggage”, but I can also read the sheet music in heavily darkened halls without any problems. It also eliminates the annoying but often unavoidable page-turning noise.
  • Of course, I darken my tablet as much as possible so that I can just barely read the music. I don’t want to disturb other people unnecessarily. I’ve never had any problems with people sitting next to me. On the contrary: the notes often arouse curiosity and interest—a thoroughly positive experience!
  • Only once, 3-4 years ago, did my iPad attract the attention of the auditorium staff. However, the situation cleared up immediately after I showed that I was only reading music on the tablet.

Reprimand and Warning

That night the situation was completely different. I was sitting with my wife in the 13th row, near the right edge. In the “heat of the moment,” I paid little attention to the concert hall staff. That changed when a young person in the row in front of us experienced a medical emergency. The lady at the side entrance helped by holding the door open and alerting the medical staff. She must have noticed my iPad. During the performance (Max Bruch), she approached me from behind like a hawk and sternly told me that the use of such a device without permission was forbidden.

Just the way she told me this shocked me. I have experienced several cases in the past where visitors were treated very rudely and the supervisors lacked any respect or tact. This was the worst of these incidents. I observed the lady repeatedly patrolling along the wall with a bitter, sullen look on her face, and with the relentless attention of a supervisor in an exam. Several times, and in the same rude tone, she reprimanded people in the audience who momentarily dared to light up their cell phones. One instance concerned the group of young people in front of us who probably wanted to send a brief message regarding the medical incident.

Naturally, I closed my iPad and stopped using it from then on. At the same time, however, I have decided not to attend any more concerts in the Tonhalle in future unless I receive express written permission from the organizers for the use of a tablet. If this reaction seems exaggerated: our neighbors (the parents of one of the soloists who had traveled to Zurich especially for this occasion) felt compelled to apologize to me (!) for this incident.

Reason and Moderation

I do not deny the right (and the duty) of organizers or supervisors in the concert hall to monitor the audience discreetly and, in the case of obviously disruptive misbehavior, to reprimand them in a measured and respectful manner. There are certainly behaviors that are unacceptable in concert halls, such as filming during the performance or not putting cell phones into silent or airplane mode. In my opinion, quietly and discreetly following the score is not one of them.

Mobile devices are ubiquitous these days (most people in the audience have one). There may be situations where someone feels compelled to look at the device discreetly/unobtrusively during a concert. One may find this unfortunate—on the other hand, young concertgoers in particular should not be unduly deterred. After all, they are the audience of tomorrow.

I also found these incidents regrettable because I had the impression that the Orpheum Foundation wanted to break away from the somewhat elitist, if not dusty, rituals of previous years. For me, this impression was profoundly disturbed.

Persönliche Anmerkungen (Deutsch)
Die Vorgeschichte

Seit nunmehr fast 10 Jahren führe ich Konzertbesprechungen durch—eine Tätigkeit, die an mich herangetragen wurde. Aus eigenem Antrieb hätte ich Konzertbesprechungen nie in dem Umfang und mit der Intensität betrieben, wie dies in den Jahren vor der Pandemie der Fall war. Nichtsdestotrotz ist das eine Aufgabe, die ich gerne ausübe und die offenbar von MusikerInnen und Organisatoren geschätzt wird. Die Grundlage meiner Konzertkritiken sind die Notizen, die ich mir während des Konzerts mache. Das Festhalten des unmittelbaren Eindrucks halte ich für unerlässlich, vor allem bei Werken, mit denen ich nicht so vertraut bin.

Partituren im Konzert
  • Außer bei zeitgenössischen Werken benutze ich die Partitur auch beim Hören. Ich tue dies nicht, um Note für Note zu überprüfen, ob das, was in der Partitur steht, auch erklingt (das ist im Konzert kaum möglich). Vielmehr erlaubt mir die Partitur ein detaillierteres, intensiveres Hören.
  • In den ersten Jahren ging ich immer mit Taschenpartituren ins Konzert. Gelegentlich (selten) habe ich erlebt, dass sich Sitznachbarn durch das Blättern erheblich gestört fühlten. Nicht zuletzt aus diesem Grund (aber auch, weil es viel einfacher und bequemer ist) bin ich vor 7 Jahren dazu übergegangen, die Partituren auf mein iPad zu übertragen. Damit habe ich nicht nur deutlich weniger “Gepäck”, sondern kann die Noten auch in stark abgedunkelten Sälen problemlos lesen. Auch das lästige, aber oft unvermeidliche Umblättergeräusch entfällt.
  • Natürlich dunkle ich mein Tablet so weit ab, dass ich die Noten gerade noch lesen kann. Ich möchte meine Mitmenschen nicht unnötig stören. Ich hatte noch nie Probleme mit Sitznachbarn. Im Gegenteil: Die Noten wecken oft Neugier und Interesse—eine durchweg positive Erfahrung!
  • Ein einziges Mal, vor 3-4 Jahren, erregte mein iPad die Aufmerksamkeit des Saalpersonals. Die Situation klärte sich jedoch sofort, nachdem ich gezeigt hatte, dass ich auf dem Tablet nur Noten las.
Rüge und Abmahnung

Bei diesem Konzert war die Situation ganz anders. Ich saß mit meiner Frau in der 13. Reihe des Parketts, nahe am rechten Rand. In der “Hitze des Gefechts” schenkte ich dem Saalpersonal anfangs kaum Beachtung. Das änderte sich, als sich in der Gruppe junger Leute in der Reihe vor uns ein medizinischer Notfall ereignete. Die Dame am Seiteneingang half, indem sie medizinisches Hilfspersonal alarmierte und die Tür offen hielt. Dabei muss sie mein iPad bemerkt haben. Wie ein Falke näherte sie sich mir von hinten und erklärte mir während der Aufführung (Max Bruch) in resolutem Ton, dass die Benutzung eines solchen Gerätes ohne Genehmigung verboten sei.

Allein die Art und Weise, wie sie mir das sagte, schockierte mich. Ich habe in der Vergangenheit schon einige Fälle erlebt, in denen BesucherInnen sehr rüde behandelt wurden und die Aufsichtspersonen jeglichen Respekt und Taktgefühl vermissen ließen. Dies war der schlimmste dieser Vorfälle. Ich beobachtete die Dame, wie sie immer wieder mit verbittertem, mürrischem Gesichtsausdruck und der unerbittlichen Aufmerksamkeit einer Prüfungs-.Aufseherin an der Wand entlang patrouillierte. Mehrmals tadelte sie im gleichen rüden Ton Personen aus dem Publikum, die es wagten, ihr Handy kurz aufleuchten zu lassen. Ein Fall betraf die Gruppe junger Leute vor uns, die wohl eine kurze Meldung zum Notfall durchgeben wollten.

Natürlich habe ich mein iPad zugeklappt und von da an nicht mehr benutzt. Gleichzeitig habe ich aber beschlossen, in Zukunft keine Konzerte in der Tonhalle mehr zu besuchen, es sei denn, ich erhalte von den Veranstaltern die ausdrückliche schriftliche Erlaubnis, ein Tablet zu benutzen. Falls diese Reaktion übertrieben erscheinen sollte: unsere Sitznachbarn (die Eltern eines der Solisten, die eigens für dieses Konzert angereist waren) sahen sich veranlasst, sich bei mir (!) für diesen Vorfall zu entschuldigen.

Vernunft und Maß

Ich spreche den Veranstaltern bzw. den Aufsichtspersonen im Konzertsaal nicht das Recht (und die Pflicht) ab, das Publikum diskret zu überwachen und bei offensichtlich störendem Fehlverhalten maß- und respektvoll zurechtzuweisen. Natürlich gibt es Verhaltensweisen, die im Konzertsaal inakzeptabel sind—etwa das Filmen während der Aufführung oder das Handy nicht auf lautlos oder in den Flugmodus zu schalten. Das lautlose und diskrete Verfolgen der Partitur gehört meines Erachtens nicht dazu.

Mobile Geräte sind heute allgegenwärtig (die meisten Menschen im Publikum haben eines dabei). Es mag Situationen geben, in denen sich jemand während eines Konzerts genötigt fühlt, diskret / unauffällig einen Blick auf das Gerät zu werfen. Das mag man bedauerlich finden—andererseits sollten vor allem junge KonzertbesucherInnen nicht über die Maßen abgeschreckt werden. Schließlich sind sie das Publikum von morgen.

Bedauerlich fand ich diese Vorkommnisse auch deshalb, weil ich gerade bei diesem Konzert den Eindruck hatte, dass sich die Orpheum Stiftung von den etwas elitären, wenn nicht gar verstaubten Ritualen der vergangenen Jahre trennen wollte. Dieser Eindruck wurde bei mir nachhaltig gestört.


The author would like to express his gratitude to the Orpheum Foundation for the Support of Young Artists for the invitation to review this concert. Photo credits for pictures from the event (see the photo legends for detail): Thomas Entzeroth, Drahtzugstrasse 51, CH-8008 Zürich.

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