Musicalamerica reviews from Munich: “The 1909 candy-box essays by Schönberg and Webern, Fünf Orchesterstücke and Sechs Stücke, can pass by gratuitously in uncommitted hands. Such was not the case yesterday with the Munich Philharmonic.
Norwegian conductor Eivind Gullberg Jensen, calm and assured, drew sanguine, incisive performances; it has been a few years — back to Christian Thielemann days in fact — since we heard these musicians on such expressive form.
The sly curlicues and jocular punches of Schönberg’s (Opus 16) First Piece contrasted bluntly with the foggy stasis and lunacy of his Third and Fourth. Webern’s sparing, pastoral collection (Opus 6) emerged in uncompromised dynamic extremes — mostly detailed low extremes, much challenged by the Munich concert hall’s bad acoustics. A rare treat.
In context, Leif Ove Andsnes’s luxuriant traversals of Beethoven’s Second and Fourth Piano Concertos (in B-Flat and G Major) felt almost like a sideshow. Gullberg Jensen enforced elegance in the accompaniment to the awkward Second, at tempos somewhat drawn-out. In the Fourth, again taken leisurely, but with a firm pulse, Andsnes made impeccable sense of the lines and related Beethoven’s thoughts handsomely to each other. The MPhil played just as well here, reduced to half its size after the Modern scores.