There are nights when the music you just listened to simply overwhelms you, when you just don't feel like doing what you've been trained to -- to clap your hands, stand up, cheer, whatever. The music is still with you, within you, even when the sound stops. The music still echoes, in a way, and breaking the silence simply seems wrong. Because what you just experienced is so deep and, in a way, fragile, that you want to hold on to it just a bit longer, and you know the applause will somehow break the spell.
Opera Chic experienced this phenomenon last year, at la Scala, with the Barenboim/Quasthoff "Winterreise". Apparently, very much the same thing happened the other night in Lucerne, for Claudio Abbado's performance on the podium, conducting his beloved Mahler's Ninth.
The always perceptive Carla Moreni, in Il Sole 24 Ore, a financial newspaper with an excellent arts coverage, was present. And her review in today's paper, unfortunately not available online -- the headline reads, beautifully, "Mahler's Ninth, The Perfect Silence" -- indicates that the audience was so stunned by the finale that, literally, nobody clapped their hands for three minutes after the final notes dissolved in the air.
And, eventually, an ovation lasting twenty full minutes rocked the auditorium.
But then, in a way, this is just Claudio being Claudio.