April 2008

Encore, Encore!

April 16, 2008 07:09

Monday, April 7, 2008
Anne Sophie Mutter in Recital
Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco


She finishes with a flourish and we rise to our feet, roaring our approval, hands soon stinging from ceaseless clapping. Over the next three minutes she leaves the stage, returns for a bow, leaves, returns, leaves, and then rewards us. An encore. Something Brahmsian and beautiful.

It’s too short. She departs and again we rise, we clap, we implore her to return to us which she does, again and again, gliding out in her strapless Dior dress. She is so elegant, so beautiful, so charismatic. “Brava,” we cry, and she rewards us again. Another encore.

We can’t believe our luck. A hush falls over the sold-out concert hall as 2500 posteriors settle quickly back into their seats. Another Brahms, from his Hungarian Dances.

She pours her heart into her encore performances. This is no delicate, sweet icing on the cake. This is more of the meal. It’s sensational. We’re electrified.

Too soon, again, she leaves. There is a frenzied nature to our clapping now, an exhilaration, a feeling that something is happening that does not normally occur in a major concert hall performance. We, the fans, are running the show. “Anne Sophie,” we cry through our clapping, “bring us more magic!”

We don’t stop the applause. We won’t. This swell of enthusiasm is simply too big to die away, it has spawned its own life. She recognizes this, then. She comes out. A third encore. The crowd goes wild. Only the sound of her speaking quiets us. She announces in that lyrical, slightly flirtatious voice of hers, what she will play next. (Another of the Hungarian Dances, perhaps, but don’t quote me.)

She plays, then leaves. We are all crazed and laughing and shouting out; it’s classical music’s version of a rock concert audience. She returns for three more bows, then holds up her hand. “I will play again,” she calls out, “but this is the last time.” A playful warning tone enters her voice. We chuckle, then bob our heads like obedient children.

The last choice is perfect: Brahms's “Lullaby.” A ripple of appreciative laughter runs through the audience. But then we quiet down further and really listen. I have never taken this piece so seriously before, nor heard such magic within it. It casts a spell on the audience. It is such a perfect ending to the encore frenzy; it soothes us, sedates us, sends us out of the concert hall sleepy, compliant and satiated.

Four encores. An extraordinary night no one in the audience will ever forget. I am now an eternal fan of Anne Sophie Mutter.

© 2008 Terez Rose

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