The early music world has known Andrew Manze for years as an accomplished Baroque violinist, but the rest of the classical music world is getting acquainted with Manze as an assured, intelligent conductor working hard to establish a reputation as an interpreter of core 18th and 19th century repertory. Manze’s recent Beethoven recordings have even been met with praise from David Hurwitz, a period performance skeptic of sorts.
For my interview with Manze yesterday, I was most curious about his view on the limits of historically informed performance practice (HIPP). We talked at length about vibrato, its appropriateness, and HIPP as it relates to 20th Century music. Manze’s concerts this week with the Seattle Symphony juxtapose music by Corelli and Tallis with Tippett, Elgar, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. 3/5 ths of the program was composed in the first half of the last century.
Manze struck me as an artist who lets HIPP guide his work on the podium without dominating it. He readily admits that Elgar wouldn’t sound like Elgar without vibrato and the contends (although not explicitly) that there hasn’t been a time before vibrato and a time after vibrato.
There was one shocking moment in the interview. As we talked about how he inhabits the musical world of the composers he is conducting, Manze admitted (after a question from me) that he doesn’t understand Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, and other nationalist composers.
The SSO is split this week and for the next few weeks because of Seattle Opera’s premiere of Amelia. Even with the smaller forces of the SSO Manze’s insights from the podium and a Baroque influenced program should make for good listening this week.
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