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









Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'