Reino Unido

Classical giants

Andrew Maisel
jueves, 17 de abril de 2014
London, sábado, 5 de abril de 2014. Barbican Hall. Lars Vogt, piano. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Maris Jansons, conductor. Beethoven: Piano Concerto No1 in C major, Op 15. Bruckner: Symphony No 9 in D minor

This was the third and final performance in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) three concert residency at London’s Barbican Hall. As with the other two, it featured a Bruckner symphony with a concerto from one of the classical giants. This looked arguably the most enticing of the lot; Bruckner ‘s great valedictory statement and one of Beethoven’s most exuberant, youthful works.

Together Mariss Jansons and soloist Lars Vogt gave us a weighty, yet fresh and lithe account of Beethoven’s First piano concerto. Not hint of a period like performance here but this was not a bad thing. Vogt’s playing was refined and full of individuality. Only in the first movement cadenza (Beethoven’s longest) did some heavily accentuated notes grate on the ear. The largo was deliciously elegant in shape and featured some lovely playing from the orchestra’s wind section. In contrast the third movement rondo proceeded at whirlwind pace; Vogt’s technique unfailingly secure but musically lacking the the last degree of wit and sparkle in order to qualify as a complete success.

Vogt returned with a beautifully concentrated Chopin's Nocturne No.1 Op 55, delicate in its phrasing and ripley poetic in its delivery.

Bruckner’s symphonies come in a number of different editions or revision, either revised by the composer himself or Bruckner scholars, chiefly Robert Haas or Leopold Nowak. The Ninth symphony wasn’t revised by Bruckner as he never completed it, but various editions exist. It was unfortunate therefore that there was no indication in the Barbican programme as to which edition we were hearing.

This was not a performance for those who like this work expansive and long breathed. Clocking in at just over 50 minutes (some performances run to over an hour) Jansons fast and unstintingly unsentimental vision was coherent in tone and pace throughout and was, at times, extremely well played. Unfortunately there were times when much of the grandeur and drama felt scaled down, the gigantic peaks and troughs sinking into an amorphous whole. That said the opening movement was full of good things with Jansons skillfully weaving the disparate themes and changes of tempo into a coherent whole, but there were times when the brass could be overbearingly loud, a common enough trap to fall into with the Barbican’s dry acoustic, but which previous RCO performances have managed to avoid. The Scherzo was bizarre; the repetitive bass rhythms were slowed right down; the violins subsequently speeding away at full speed. The trio was rapid and fleet of foot, the overall effect to pull the movement right out of shape. The closing adagio displayed some gloriously ripe and opulent string tone in Bruckner’s great theme following the tumultuous first climax. Jansons’ desire to push on was admirable as was the lack of holding on in the coda but the net result was strangely unmoving and matter-of-fact. A disappointment.

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