Posts Tagged ‘Valery Gergiev’

Cellphones and Their Ilk

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

by Sedgwick Clark  

Many years ago I was sitting next to the p.r. director of the Berlin Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall when a cellphone went off as Simon Rattle conducted. When the piece ended I asked him if that happened in Berlin. “Everywhere,” he said sadly.   

I left for vacation two days after the cellphone brouhaha at the New York Philharmonic last week, when the ringer in front-row center went off during the last page of Mahler’s Ninth and Alan Gilbert courageously stopped the orchestra until the thing was turned off. The explanation and the miscreant’s subsequent phone apology to Maestro Gilbert got loads of coverage, even on television. But as I passed through the airline’s frisker at Newark Airport I had no doubt what should be done: All concertgoers should be required to pass through metal detectors, and those who fail the test must check their cellphones, blackberries, iphones, et al. in the coat room before they are allowed to enter the concert hall.   

Unmuffled coughing (nearly always in a quiet moment) is annoying enough, but I’ve yet to encounter anyone with a good word to say about cellphone beepers in concerts. I recall the woman at a Philharmonic matinee over ten years ago who answered her cellphone to say loudly, “I can’t talk now—I’m in a concert.” Valery Gergiev ignored her, but I’ll bet Kurt Masur would have turned around and let her have it. (Which reminds me of the story of Sir Thomas Beecham conducting the final six widely spaced chords of Sibelius’s Fifth and several audience members applauding prematurely; he turned around and bellowed, “Savages,” before turning back to the orchestra and finishing the symphony without skipping a beat.)  

I wonder what Herbert von Karajan would have done?   

Gilbert’s Mahler

I heard the first of the series of Gilbert’s Mahler Ninths and found myself among the “some” mentioned by the Times‘s Tony Tommasini who might prefer a more emotional—nay, intense, searching, devastating—interpretation. I cannot go without mentioning Principal Cellist Carter Brey’s solo just before the last page of the work, which in a few seconds conveyed all the Mahlerian eloquence and heart-rending depth I found missing from the other 80 minutes. There are many extraordinary musicians in the Philharmonic, and Brey is among the uppermost.