Pat Kop, conductor

Pat Kop, conductor


norman lebrecht

June 28, 2020

We’ve just been made aware of this phenomenal performance of a Mozart symphony led by Patricia Kopatchinskaya from the violin, a couple of weeks before lockdown.

Watch here.

You will either love or hate it.

Compare and contrast:


  • pjl says:

    thank you, Norman: phenomenal is right! This could be the most significant post you have ever done! Many will hate this but surely it reminds us that LIVE music MUST come back as soon as possible. I remember being startled by the Erich Kleiber recording and then by Harnoncourt’s recordings: a totally new approach to phrasing. But this is AMAZING!!! OK the development section of the last movement is outrageous, but I loved it. Even here I find the second movement a bit dull but there is so much LIFE here and JOY. The clarinet players are especially fine and I much prefer this version to the ‘purist’ oboe version. But what is the guy at the piano doing?

  • YB Schragadove says:

    Although it appears somewhat acted out, I enjoyed this performance for its merits: alert, alive, active, engaged, energetic, with fantastic sensitivity to dynamic shading.

    Although in general I enjoy some historically informed performances, I wouldn’t refer to this performance as “phenomenal” by any means. For me, the Kopatchinskaya-led vibrato-less whiny “white-tone”, the sliding and slithering around, and rushed passages are all negatives (and listen to that ugly moment at 21:51!). Having the horns come to the front of the stage near the end of the 3rd movement for their small moment – silliness.

    But I still enjoyed this and learned from the approach taken.

    • Nick says:

      You are right. They do not even pretend to be an “historically informed” performance, although there is no doubt that all these wonderful musicians are very well informed of “classical performance practices” are. They offer something else: correct tempi and engaged music making!

  • jay says:

    There is of course no disputing the matter of taste.Years ago on hearing Ms.Kopatchinskaya for the first time, one
    thought ” a breath of fresh air in the dull fiddle world”until after a few hearing you realized she was not about the composers she performed as she was totally about herself. To these ears this Mozart is terrible she not so
    much plays a beautiful line of music as she beats it to death.Ii is virtuosoed out of recognition. It is given the
    Kopatchinskaya show biz treatment which has little to do
    with music making but much to do with posturing for the gallery.

    • Nick says:

      First of all: the “world of fiddle” is far from dull, and 2. Kopachinskaya is indeed “a breath of very fresh air”.

  • mgm says:

    Seriously? Impossible to play together with that. It isn’t together. A show within a show.

  • Doug says:

    Phenomenal = fast, just because we can.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Perhaps PatKop should heed an advice by one of her idols, Enescu, who said something along these lines: as fast as possible does not mean as fast as impossible.

      If my memory is correct, Richard Strauss said something similar too.

  • engineers_unite says:

    does it actually mean they play the notes written or some sort of “new invention” as usual “inspired” by this nutcase who has no respect for composers.

    • Pacer1 says:

      How true! Unfortunately you can fool all of the people some of the time………..

      She wields her violin like a pit bull on a favoured bone.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    I’ve always loved you as a violinist.
    Now you’re a conductor? BRAVA, PatKop!!
    I hope you come to San Francisco to guest conduct and/or play once the plague abates.

  • Friedhofer says:

    Why not just do what Mozart wrote in the score and make music :

  • Nick says:

    Extremely impressive!!

  • Nelson says:

    Phenomenal like a train wreck, I suppose. Sort of a pseudo Frankenstein post-HIP approach (the cadavers of the burned embers of HIP?), but pre-formed and rhythmically untenable, vibrato basically only when nonbody’s listening, apparently one doesn’t need to be together (or in tune) at these tempi, which are ineffective in any case (clarity, hello?), narcissistic (look at me, I’m SO interesting that you don’t have to think about the music). So, the 3rd mvt is a violin concerto now? At least she should play in tune, yes?

    One doesn’t need to play Mozart like a monk, but geez, what does this contribute to our understanding or enjoyment of the WORK? It’s just a stunt designed to be provocative, not an actual interpretation of Mozart’s 40th, imho.

    One thing I’ve learned though, is the Pat (Keystone) Kop brigade will fight dissenting views as if those expressing them are totally against ANY kind of interpretive freedom, and are only out to thwart the freedom of expression. Nonsense! Freedom and imagination and interpretive acumen are still, at the end of the day, to illuminate a musical work, not to call attention to a performer’s mannerisms to the exclusion of all else. Talented yes, no doubt, but there’s only so much navel gazing to be tolerated before it’s simply tackiness and bad taste. No thank you!

  • Stuart says:

    It reminds me of some of the HIP performances of the Brandenberg concertos and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons that went for extreme speeds over making sense of the music. Kopatchinskaya’s approach to this Mozart symphony is interesting in that it forces one to think about what constitutes a valid performance of the work. No reason not to experiment in this way – just doesn’t work in the end. Tends to work against what the composer wrote. Mozart’s symphony will survive such exploration – that is what makes it a great work. You can play it in a lot of different ways – this one just tends to bend the music too far out of shape. Can’t fault their energy, precision and ability to play together, but they are more concerned with their playing rather than Mozart’s score. A bit of a parlour trick.

  • christopher storey says:

    I thought it was some sort of joke : she, and not a few of the rest, looked as though they were trying to saw their instruments in half. I suppose if you are not very good, you can gain attention by stunts . What about doing it on a high wire next?

  • SHERBAN says:

    Dear Norman
    It is indeed shameful and extremely dissapointing that such garbage should appear on your website! What happened to the great recordings of Klemperer, Karajan, Reiner, Bohm, Celibidache, Busch etc.? How can you compare cheap tricks to real music making? And what about mocking Mozart’s masterpiece by this PK clown or whatever she is? You are doing a great disservice to real musicianship in your desperate quest for cheap publicity! I no longer want to be associated with your website which lately is only cheap, meaningless gossip!

    • Stuart says:

      I didn’t like the performance but am glad I heard it. It is how we learn. I probably would not have come across this particular performance if not for SD.
      Norman said you’d love it or hate it, but it wasn’t garbage or mocking or a disservice or meaningless gossip. Let’s not just confine ourselves to the old (white) guy conductors of the past. Your swipe at Norman was cheap and unwarranted. I have plenty about which to disagree on this forum, but I learn a lot, often as much from people with whom I disagree. This forum covers a lot of ground and is always interesting if you have an open mind. You just have to wade through the mire of odd opinions, less than informed points of view and rude (sometimes very rude) responses. But I find it a good daily read and would not want to see it censored.

  • Musiclover says:

    It is easier to play fast well than slow and well. Trying to be different doesn’t always work in classical music.

  • Adam Stern says:

    The first word that came to mind was “ghastly”.
    Also the second, and the third, and…

  • CurlyQ111 says:

    I played in a top US orchestra accompanying her on the Tchaik Cto. Not only was it more a solo show with this pesky orchestra that she had to try and coordinate with, but she played so off the wall and inconsistently each reh/concert that she hung the conductor and orchestra out to dry. She wasn’t particularly kind or didn’t once tell the group her “Schlick/interpretation/give any direction whatsoever.” We basically tried to guess where she was as she stomped her bare feet loudly around on stage while sawing out of tune passages that sounded sort of like Tchaikovsky. Then the encore banging on a piano…no thanks. I’m all about being progressive and supporting strong women artists, but this was just silly.

  • Richard Zencker says:

    I actually like Patty the K, I mean I sure wouldn’t want her Beethoven Concerto to be the only version I owned, but I enjoyed it. On the other hand when I told the concertmaster of a local orchestra that, he grimaced.

    I’m afraid I don’t have the respect for Mozart that others do; this opinion was formed well over a half-century ago, but even then I considered this his best work. So I don’t consider this an act of desecration, just a bit of a travesty.

    Anyone who’s tried conducting an orchestra soon realizes it is completely unlike playing in one, and you have to lead. Thus you really cannot lead from an instrument unless you plan let it go on “autopilot,” or else you have to constantly jump in front of the other players; the latter is what happens here and it leads to strange accelerandi and unsynchronized passagework.

    Finally, standing up? There’s a violinist there who’s easily my age, and he’s up there for almost half an hour. He must REALLY wish he were a cellist instead.

    • X.Y. says:

      Hi Mr.Zencker, the chap “easily your age” is 68 and just retiring, an accomplished violin virtuoso with concert diploma and a very interesting musician. Camerata Bern is a self-managed orchestra (founded before Orpheus) and they chose to play standing since their beginnings (surprisingly there are still orchestras who are prepared to make an effort, mostly the free-lanced and self-managed).

      We like to be lectured but the first movement is inscribed “Allegro molto”. Friedhofers example of Celibidache above is at most “Allegro moderato”. Herbert von Karajan’s example from Muti above is perhaps “Allegro”, but not “molto”.

      There seems a general consensus that Mozart is a white diminutive plaster figure to be put on the piano and having no balls. But if you take “Allegro molto” at face value and play it as the last concert before imminent lockdown and facing an environmental catastrophe perhaps you can feel that in this piece there is restlessness, anxiety and urgency, what was once called “Sturm und Drang” in the olden days. Sincerely

      • Richard Zencker says:

        Thank you for your insights. I hadn’t considered the tempo marking that way. At least I was close on the age… I know I played standing up as recently as last year…

  • violin accordion says:

    Doesn’t come anywhere near the integrity and verve of Nadia Salerno Sonnenberg leading the New Century Chamber Orchestra.

    Try Tchaikovsky Serenade.

  • Tamino says:

    Horrible. Try to listen with your eyes closed. Unbearable unnatural agogic.
    No sense of flow.
    Raping Mozart.
    Like evil clowns.