LPO/Jurowski, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
Tuesday 06 December 2005
Blink and you miss the change of orchestra. Vladimir Jurowski was resuming with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) where he left off a week earlier with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE): a classical symphony with its period-style features intact. If he keeps the LPO playing like this, he'll do the OAE out of its Glyndebourne job.
In Haydn, he found the immediacy of response and freshness of detail that he hadn't always in Beethoven. This, too, in Haydn's most superficial symphony, the interminable No 60, called Il Distratto after the former theatre-music that pads it out to six movements, though it's equally suitable for the composer's state of mind in recycling material better trashed. If only he'd stopped after the two good movements in the middle, a robust minuet and a sparky sprint that found the players at their keenest.
The latter's vernacular Hungarian episodes made for an equally laboured link with Bartok, whose Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta occupied the second half. No problems about quality control here, though. The sinuous intensity of the composing brought a direct, clearly balanced response from the performers. Jurowski built a tautened phrasing together with the long crescendos in both the slow sections, and - harder to do - maintained the tension afterwards when the music quietened.
Some finely judged touches of xylophone set off and punctuated the second of them. The performance's other highlight was the finale's diversity of rhythmic character, accumulating with unstoppable momentum and flair, though the ultimate, broader payoff didn't blaze as it can.
As for humour, Shostakovich was your man this time, outcomposing Haydn in his Concerto for Piano and Trumpet with its alternation of the wry and the satirical. Thanks to the soloists even more than the orchestra, it was the performance of the evening, if not the month. Simon Trpceski, the pianist, made his name with Rachmaninov, but he has impressed just as much with the wit and flair of Saint-Saëns, and for Shostakovich the two traits just about added up to perfection.
He showed an identification with the music's essence that made it sound as though it was spontaneously coming into existence as you listened. Paul Beniston endured his trumpet's deconstruction with deadpan good grace, let it sing with uncanny finesse, and more than met Trpceski's challenge to an extra turn of speed at the end.
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