Staatskapelle Berlin / Barenboim, Royal Festival Hall, London

4.00

Daniel Barenboim has earned his adoration. He could stand on one leg and whistle “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” and still bring audiences to their feet.

It’s a respect thing, it’s the history he brings to the table, the intellect and theory he now makes so effortlessly practical. His performances – particularly at the keyboard – breathe a different air. You may not always agree with them but you’d be foolish to disregard them.

When he first recorded the Beethoven Concertos with the great Otto Klemperer the best part of half a century ago (yes, really) the idea of programming them alongside works by Arnold Schoenberg might have been viewed as capricious, even pretentious. Now the logic is inescapable: two highly influential composers both able to summarise the past whilst redefining the future. And with Barenboim as teacher audiences are better disposed to learn (and buy tickets). As I say, it’s a respect thing: trust me, I’m Barenboim.

With the Beethoven Concertos he is now resolved to be answerable only to himself. Directing from the keyboard he can shape and mould the Staatskapelle Berlin in his own pianistic image. The opening of the First Piano Concerto was so discreet, so intimate, that the violins’ statement of the first subject might almost have been coming from another room. It felt overheard, self-consciously so, but it did suggest half-remembered Haydn and it did instantly draw us in to Barenboim’s inner world. The really marvellous moments in this performance were visionary and dream-like, as if Barenboim was already scenting the world of Maeterlinck and Schoenberg approaching in the second half.

With the dark shift of tonality into the development of the first movement the pulse slowed almost imperceptibly to take in the uncharted terrain. A chain of descending chords opened magic casements onto an altogether more perfect world and then like beauty confronting the beast a solo bassoon triggered precipitous drama in the piano’s bass register. The only predictable thing about Beethoven is his unpredictability and in that Barenboim is very much a kindred spirit. His sometimes halting rubatos are very “old school” but they speak of rapture and the deepest contemplation. And only an elder statesman could treat the first movement cadenza as his own internal extemporisation of “the story so far”. Actually I’m pretty sure it was his own cadenza, full of mysterious key changes and a grandiose climax which seemed to anticipate the “Emperor” concerto in a couple of days time. The finale brought the odd smudges – but who really cares about those – and the Beethovenian equivalent of Jelly Roll Morton in the jazzy middle section. That really went with a swing.

Strangely enough the distracted dream-world of Maeterlinck’s Pelleas und Melisande as realised in Schoenberg’s early tone poem found a more detached Barenboim as if his fascination with the piece was more theoretical than emotional. The Staatskapelle Berlin offered a sumptuous enough palette of sound but unlike the Beethoven it felt strangely impersonal. Or is that the piece?

edwardseckerson.biz









Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests