MUSIC / Taking shape: Philharmonia - Royal Festival Hall
Friday 22 January 1993
But profound musical thinker Tchaikovsky undoubtedly was. After Beethoven no one, not even Mahler, broadened the horizons of symphonic logic more radically, and the Fourth Symphony, to take an example, remains one of the most astonishing achievements of 19th-century music. Kurt Sanderling, in a most impressive concert with the Philharmonia Orchestra on Tuesday, revealed just how overwhelming an achievement, by avoiding sensational rhetoric and lyric indulgence and showing the music as one of the great feats of purely symphonic organisation.
His was the reverse of the kind of performance we hear from Russian interpreters, which we tend to believe are in in some sense authentic. It was an architectural rather than a romantically biographical performance, but no less powerful for all that. In achieving his ends, Sanderling took great care with the instrumental texture, and the Philharmonia produced sounds of warmth, clarity and subtlety. The big brass challenges were splendidly delivered (the extra trumpet delivering the fate motif made a searing effect), the wind section brought an exquisite refinement to Tchaikovsky's abundant lyricism, and the strings ranged from brilliance in fortissimo attack to a touching inwardness in quieter cantabile. The overall picture was of a sound specially tailored to the symphony's expressive needs.
Earlier, in Sibelius' Violin Concerto, a different sound world had been created, integrating the wide contrasts between the soloist's tender flights and the sombre power of the many key tuttis. The complexity of the relationship between soloist and orchestra called at times for an exceptional awareness on the conductor's part. Clarity is essential, yet the orchestra should not seem to be losing intensity. It was a problem that Sanderling addressed with great care; details that lie hidden in many performances emerged here in surprising focus.
Ida Haendel characterised her solos with fire and purity, launching the haunting opening paragraph with imaginative freshness. Perhaps towards the close of the work she lost a little of her initial drive, but this was an interpretation newly envisioned and daringly carried through.
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
Arts & Ents blogs
Jared Leto: Best Supporting Actor Oscar sparks backlash from transgender community
In Kony's shadow: Shocking photographs reveal brutality of Lord's Resistance Army
Captain Phillips actor Barkhad Abdi struggles despite Oscar nomination
Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill set for new film penned by Captain Phillips screenwriter Billy Ray
First clip of Outkast's Andre 3000 in Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side emerges
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 First clip of Outkast's Andre 3000 in Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side emerges