This excellent review (German) has intrigued me into investing a small fortune to see Alles nah, alles fern, a contemporary ballet performance on Gustav Mahler's 5. Symphony in the Zürich Opernhaus tonight. It has been very instructive.
Lately, I have started listening more to more recent music than my usual renaissance / early classical stuff. And time and again, I've come across rave reviews of Spörli's choreography on Bach's Die Kunst der Fuge, which I keep missing. So I decided I needed to expose myself to this highly acclaimed production despite of my lack of understanding for romantic music. You never know, perhaps I am starting down that road come old age?
But while I can appreciate the grandeur of the music and the powerful imagery created by masterful contemporary dance of a kind that I've never seen before, it all left me curiously cold. So, I've learnt a thing or two about myself tonight: 1) Clearly, I am not a romanticist, probably never will be, and 2) it is the allusion to classical themes, forms and formality that I like in more recent works of whatever style. But 3) I dislike the bland pathos, self-indulgence and excessiveness of romanticist emotionality, chiefly when it is expressed in symphonic works. I find that there is so much more freedom of expression of interpreters' ambivalent personalities in the small format of chamber music or early music. I am well aware that this is not the most fashionable of positions to hold in our day and age of high drama. Also, my taste in music might be deemed to be shallow because of its reliance on a certain degree of apparent formality, but as we know since Lord Henry, it is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances ...
So, it was an interesting evening indeed. Despite of my evident scepticism, I will make sure to not miss Die Kunst der Fuge again, next time the opportunity presents itself! Given the proper text (for me), Spörli's production should be a memorable experience.