Leon Kirchner and Chamber Ensemble
At Sanders last night
Sitting in Sanders' section "D" can be a mixed blessing. Acoustically it contains among the best seats in the house. For the socially inclined, it also has the advantage of being the section where most of the greater lights of the Harvard summer musical world have bought their season tickets.
Unfortunately, this section also houses a sadly inevitable crowd of young hangers-on and would-be-professional musicians. These are the people who feel compelled to exhibit the superiority of their musicianship to that of the performers on stage by means of a running commentary of giggles, frowns, snickers and between-the-movements explanations of how that melody really should have been phrased.
Needless to say, people like that are missing the point. Concerts, especially those of such uncompromising selectivity of programming and meticulousness of performance as Harvard's summer series, exist not for the final approval or disapproval of nit-picking musical Eumenides but for the expanded artistic experience and possibly edification of all.
There is never anything absolute or definitive about a performance, nor should there be. Each concert, ephemeral as it is, is part of a great musical continuum. It relates both backwards to concerts that have come before and forward to performances that have yet to materialize. Every concert is commentary on every other, and in itself is incomplete. The vultures who regard a concert as their personal prey are missing not only what that particular performance has to offer, but what it has to say in relation to the musical world in general, past and present.
Who cares if Leon Kirchner did not phrase the last movement of the Mozart Eb major piano quartet as if it began on an upbeat? And what if Jaime Laredo did force a bit in the suite from Stravinsky's L'histoire du Soldat? And if the Schoenberg Suite Op. 29 is a little hard to take on first hearing, for petesake go listen to it again!
The worst thing an audience can do is go to a concert with a closed ear. Unfortunately this is what a lot of self-styled "music lovers" seem to be doing; fortunately, under the guidance of brilliant musical minds like Leon Kirchner, music continues to be daring, provoking, and inspiring--as mehitabel would say--in spite of hell.