Prom 63, Royal Albert Hall, review: A spiritedly and idiomatically delivered performance

Igor Levit laid his cards on the table in his initial entry in Concerto No 27 in B flat major

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The Independent Culture

Mozart’s piano concertos have such a limpid simplicity that one is constantly surprised at the number of ways in which they can be got right - or very wrong. And with eight pianists playing eight of them in this year’s Proms, we’ve visited both ends of that spectrum.

Very much a rising star at present, the young Russian pianist Igor Levit laid his cards on the table in his initial entry in Concerto No 27 in B flat major – Mozart’s farewell to the form – with a touch so delicate as to seem weightless, and with an intimately confiding sound.

With sensitive support from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Peter Oundjian’s direction, every note in Levit’s performance was fastidiously placed, and every phrase beautifully sculpted: it was like listening to a speech by a master-orator who never needs to raise his voice. Yet when it fell to him to lead the orchestra into new realms in the first-movement development, and in the sequence of small quasi-cadenzas which stud the finale, he had all the authority required. His encore – Shostakovich’s Waltz-Scherzo – was a comic tour de force, played pianissimo throughout.

The rest of this Prom consisted of Messiaen’s rarely-performed Hymne and Bruckner’s Symphony No 7 in E major, both spiritedly and idiomatically delivered.

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