ALL the hallmarks of a heavy-going couple of hours were there. The overture to a frustratingly tragic Wagner music-drama and the introspective intensity of Brahms. So it was down to Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto to lighten the mood.
Indeed, after what felt a rather sedate opening to the allegro moderato first movement, soloist Leif Ove Andsnes, gradually powered up and the performance became more electrifying until the sparkling vivace of the rondo finale.
Conductor Vasily Petrenko kept the whole first movement rather restrained and it was not until the searing cadenza that the whole piece blossomed.
At all times, Andsnes’s playing was impeccable, absolutely precise and clean-cut. His reappearance, surely, is keenly awaited.
The performance of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony, a rather dark and introspective piece, was earnest, with Petrenko allowing the orchestra to expand into the big sounds called for by the composer. There was a peculiar intensity to the slow movement, with all the emotional chords being strained to near breaking-point, while the blistering allegro giocosa – welcome relief, really – was a fitting prelude to a dramatic finale, with that rare symphonic passacaglia always proving utterly fascinating.
The concert opened with the overture to Wagner’s Flying Dutchman. The horns may have sounded just a little uncertain at the outset but soon regained their composure. Again, the brass chorus was excellent and there was some quite stunningly beautiful playing from the cor anglais.
Heavy-going? Not really. There was enough light and shade to make for a thoroughly worthy performance.
Glyn Mon Hughes