London Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis, Barbican Hall, London

A fast ride in a cabriolet racer

On the evidence of Sunday's LSO concert at the Barbican, switching from Sir Colin to Sir Andrew Davis is rather like hopping from a classy limousine to a cabriolet racer. Sir Andrew's Prokofiev Five certainly suited the weather. Others might have unfolded the opening Andante with greater spaciousness, but Davis's brightly lit development section helped clarify where Prokofiev's arguments had sprung from and where they were going.

The keenly accented scherzo became black comedy; fast and cynical with brilliant solo clarinet work from Andrew Marriner. I loved the trio's lazily quacking trumpets, the way they gradually picked up speed to join the first section's hectic return. No one would have claimed tidiness in every department, but then this wasn't that sort of performance. And there were other memorable details. I'm thinking of the desperation at the climax of the Adagio as the quiet, waltz-time introduction came screaming back, and the finale's slithery coda, a perennially shocking denouement.

Sir Andrew had opened the concert with Stravinsky's Quatre Etudes of 1930, cameo flashbacks to Petrushka that also pan forwards. The first, a primitive dance, granted valuable clarity to the timpani; the second became a tautly coiled clockwork toy on the rampage, the third a study in sullen woodwind sonorities, while the Spanish-flavoured finale was as much a study in musical stealth. Again Davis captured the distinctive flavour of each movement, and the music sounded so good. A year or so ago and the Barbican's stage would have kept much of the detail to itself, but not on Sunday, when the woodwinds really did project.

For many the concert's centrepiece will also have been its main attraction – a rare outing for Karl Goldmark's affable First Violin Concerto, played by the latest violinist to record it (for EMI), Philadelphia-born Sarah Chang. Goldmark was a Hungarian who made it big in Vienna and this particular work was, in its day, virtually as famous as the Brahms or Tchaikovsky concertos. If asked to rate it, I'd probably opt for midway between the Dvorak and the Bruch First. Goldmark's First is a loveable concerto that just occasionally doffs its hat to the halls of academe (two dry fugues seem somewhat incongruous) but Chang's spontaneous performance focused on its rustic charm and mel- odic warmth.

At the start of the work she waited patiently, her head bowed, while Davis cued a crisp orchestral opening. But once into the fray she turned on the heat. The Concerto's lyrical kernel is a slow movement which certain Old Masters performed out of context, though you'd need to be a fairly fit fiddler to tackle the outer movements' punishing passage work. Chang acquitted herself with honours: her look of triumph – and relief – as she dispatched her final flourish said it all. Davis and the LSO provided an accommodating and uncommonly vital accompaniment.

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
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.

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen