Epiphanies

Alongside the Lindberg works at the Philharmonic there was Brahms—like chocolate sauce over herring. People perform those two early serenades, I suppose, because they're Brahms—certainly not because they're any good. The A-major Serenade, which Salonen performed, is scored without violins and puts the winds up front, and it quacks a lot; you'd think that Brahms might have looked at a little Mozart to learn some basic wind usage. The performance was jaunty enough, I suppose, but Salonen's warm and flexible reading of the "Haydn" Variations, at the end, had a lot more to say. So, of course, did the music.

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