London Symphony Orchestra/ Previn, Barbican Hall
Monday 22 December 2008
It doesn’t seem so very long ago (but it was) that Andre Previn crossed over from the darkside (a.k.a. Hollywood) and sought the classical limelight in London.
He sported a Beatles haircut and a spring in his step and Eric Morecombe called him Mr. Preview. The twinkle in his eye hasn’t gone but the spring in his step has and, approaching the podium as gingerly as he does his 80th birthday next year, it is a physically frail Previn who now doesn’t stand but sits before the orchestra he made so very much his own – the London Symphony.
But first appearances apart, Previn’s passion for this orchestra and for the music they share remains undiminished and if you watch him carefully you’ll see in the old hand gestures that the musical perceptions are as sharp as ever. In the Suite from Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, subversive harmonies brought a clear physical response with the familiar shake of the left hand greatly intensifying vibrato and encouraging string lines to sing out. Pyrotechnical horn descants were equally favoured. It’s a composerly way he has of acknowledging this detail or that and now that he is spending more time on his own pieces, it was only fitting that he bring one along.
The Double Concerto for Violin and Contrabass dates from 2004 and has never before been aired in Europe. It’s interesting to hear how Previn’s recent compositions more openly reflect his own private enthusiasms – like Erich Korngold, whose hothouse lyricism permeates just about every fibre of this lively and entertaining piece. There’s Walton in there, too, and a piccolo solo on loan from Shostakovich. But the lush palette of harmonies is pure Korngold of the Hollywood era and the fun of the piece lies in subverting expectations as to how the “little and large” solo parts pan out. Rather cheekily it’s the contrabass - dazzlingly played here by the young Slovakian Roman Patkolo – who gruffly gets to whisper most of the sweet nothings to his amorous partner – Anne-Sophie Mutter. Ungainly he may be (this is, after all, a kind of Beauty and the Beast set-up) but under the fingers of this amazing player beauty and agility are a given. So who’s the beast now? The unaccompanied duet at the heart of the piece essentially ratifies an unlikely union made in heaven and unlikely to be repeated here on earth.
Earlier in the evening Anne-Sophie Mutter reminded us that hers is still the most seductive sound in the business when she played the socks off Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.3 raising smiles all round at the surprise appearance of a corpulent, over-rouged, French-style gavotte in the finale. Previn, who openly espouses the Viennese style and did so benevolently, if rather sedately at times, in Haydn’s “London Symphony” No.104, enjoyed pointing up its vulgarity.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Arizona shooting: Gun instructor accidentally killed by nine-year-old girl with Uzi
- 2 Miley Cyrus' homeless MTV VMAs date, Jesse Helt, is wanted by the police
- 3 Paul Scholes: Manchester City were so good against Liverpool I felt like turning the television off
- 4 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 5 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
Great British Bake Off, episode 4, review: Heat gets turned up as Iain goes into meltdown
Doctor Who kiss sparks Ofcom complaints over 'weird lesbian-lizard perv trip'
Emmys 2014: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Steven Moffat win big awards for Sherlock
Homer Simpson takes the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he does
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo, gig review: Just what everyone was hoping for
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Arizona shooting: Gun instructor accidentally killed by nine-year-old girl with Uzi
- < Previous
- Next >