Maxim Vengerov, LSO, Ticciati, Barbican
Thursday 06 December 2012
After a long absence following an injury plus psychological burn-out, Maxim Vengerov has spent this year making his come-back: he’s given scores of concerts abroad, but his re-entry into the London scene has been very carefully managed.
First he stood in at short notice to play a concerto, then he took the plunge with a solo recital at the Wigmore Hall, and that proved his Bach was back up to scratch. Joining Robin Ticciati and the London Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto was the really big test, but on this showing he’s not yet quite out of the wood.
With the Queen in attendance to mark the Barbican’s first thirty years, the event opened with a fanfare by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. This was designed to be played by seventy young musicians in tandem with wind, brass, and percussion from the LSO, and it had real substance and bite.
It was based on a skewed, wrong-note melody passed from one instrumental group to another, and we might have been in Thirties Berlin: the roughness suggested Kurt Weill, and the atmosphere of parody made a welcome antidote to the usual royal-occasion blandness. It was typical of this doughty political campaigner that, as Master of the Queen’s Music, he should then preside over the award of the Queen’s Medal for Music to the National Youth Orchestra.
Then Vengerov got down to business, with an upward opening sweep followed by a statement of Tchaikovsky’s first theme which seemed to have all his old eloquence and authority. But as the Allegro developed, cracks appeared in the edifice.
The passage-work was sometimes smudged, and there were three ghastly moments when he lost his intonation completely: each came at a point of maximum tension, at the beginning of an upward flight, and each indicated painfully over-wrought nerves.
But if he was ill at ease in the first movement, the lyrical Canzonetta was magical. Here his playing was muted from start to finish, and - with Robin Ticciati and the LSO strings providing the gentlest of pizzicato accompaniments - he created a ravishing sound-world in soft shades of grey. Back up to speed for the closing Allegro, he seemed once more in too much of an anxious hurry to enjoy – or let us enjoy - what he was playing. He redeemed himself with a Bach encore of exquisite beauty.
Arts & Ents blogs
St Patrick’s Day 2014: The worst Irish accents in film history
Under The Skin, film review: Scarlett Johansson is full-blooded as femme fatale alien
Best films on Netflix: 32 movies that will put an end to your scrolling
Game of Thrones star Sibel Kekilli wants more male nudity in the show
Disney's Frozen is 'very evil' gay propaganda, says Christian pastor
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
- 3 Nemanja Matic interview: My family were in tears when we left Lisbon
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Jet ‘hijacking’ began soon after take-off
- 5 'Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle!' Facebook links are profiting hackers