Anne Sophie von Mutter (violin) Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/ Eun Sun Kim (Conductor), Cincinnati Music Hall, 9/28/19

Gabriella Smith – f(x)=sin2x-1x; Beethoven – Violin Concerto;

At the start of the Saturday September 28, 2019 concert of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra we sat waiting to hear Anne Sophie Mutter play the Beethoven violin concerto.

Once Gabriella Smith’s f(x)=sin2x-1x finished, and feeling more disconcerted than displeased, I reflected on the experience, realizing that my problem with a great deal of new music these days is that I find most of it ill suited for inclusion in programs and in venues that are mostly traditional in content and constituency.

Eun Sun Kim magisterially led the musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra through the extended introduction to Beethoven’s one and only concerto for the violin. From the moment Anne Sophie Mutter caressed the ascending notes of the concerto’s opening statement we were offered a magnificent performance of Beethoven’s masterpiece: brave, expansive, lush, noble, and elegant.

Then the stuff of nightmares happened. No sooner Mutter had begun the Adagio movement of the Beethoven violin concerto she spotted a woman sitting in the first row of seats recording the concert unauthorized. Mutter stopped playing and addressed the culprit, who then started arguing back. We could not hear the words but could certainly read the body language of the violinist that clearly read: “THAT WAY OUT! EITHER YOU GO OR I GO!”

Finally a plainclothesman approached and ushered the young woman out. Mutter then earned one of several ovations from the Music Hall audience. I ran into a fellow reviewer and asked if this was a first for her as it was for me. It was.

The second half of the concert was devoted to Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E minor. I wish we could have stayed for it.

Unfortunately the first half of the concert ran one hour and twenty minutes. The intermission was slated to run 20 minutes starting at 9:20 pm. Ms. Mutter was seated at a desk in the lobby, signing autographs. At that rate, and with a Chicken Wing Festival taking place right across from Music Hall, leaving, getting our car and driving home would have turned at our age into a much too long affair.

Eun Sun Kim led her Cincinnati musicians with a keen understanding of the emotional depth of Beethoven’s violin concerto exemplarily partnering the soloist. The near-capacity audience amply rewarded orchestra, conductor, living composer and soloist for their labors of love not lost once the impolite culprit was summarily evicted.

Rafael de Acha