Classical music: When the wheels come off

For your festival contemplation, here are some truly unforgettable moments of live performance, including Jon Vickers’ indelible response to a persistent cougher.

Some may be familiar but they lose nothing in the retelling.

Enjoyed that? There’s more here.

stratas jon vickers

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  • I was so hoping to hear Menuhin trying play Paganini in the 1960’s, which was actually more painful than the Miss America example, or Cortot’s traversal of the Chopin B-Flat Minor Sonata in the mid ’50’s, but these compilations range from the “shooting fish in a barrel” of amateur musicians having terrible difficulty to page-turning problems–way too many of the latter in any case. The two best moments were the benign way MTT handled a missed trumpet entrance and the awful way Bohm handled a very exposed horn clam. Those were worth the price of admission but the others: “not so much”.

  • I love page turning mishaps. Reminds me of Victor Borge’s routine on that.

    I can hear the pianist thinking, “you’ve got one job to do and…”

  • This first excerpt (Strauss) is from a 1974 Columbia LP (KC 33049), Portsmouth Sinfonia Plays the Popular Classics, so one must presume that the end result met producer Brian Eno’s expectations.

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