LSO/Davis/Uchida, Barbican, London
Wednesday 28 September 2005
To a packed Barbican, Colin Davis thrashed the opening of Elgar's Introduction and Allegro, producing an enormous volume of raw tone from the LSO's string section. But Elgar cunningly employs a quartet to offset the volume and colour of the full strings, and it was with a touching tenderness of sound that the Leader, Gordan Nikolitch, led his solo colleagues. The music of the Introduction ebbs and flows emotionally, Davis encouraging an edgy sound. Even in Elgar's startling contrapuntal writing, its very strength is tinged with melancholic uncertainty - an ambiguity Davis so subtly pointed.
For ambiguity of feeling, there is surely no other composer who embraces this more fully than Schumann. And in the hands of Mitsuko Uchida his piano concerto, written for his wife, may have the ideal modern soloist. Uchida brings out the fragility, the femininity, of this exquisite concerto. From the opening, Uchida characterised her performance by long, lingering phrasing, capturing the intimacy and yearning but maintaining a sense of wonder as she unfolded her notes. In the Intermezzo, there was fine chamber-music-making as the thematic baton passed between soloist and orchestra. And in the exuberant finale, nothing was overblown, Uchida's touch flowing and silky. If there was the odd near-miss in ensemble between soloist and orchestra, this was a concerto delivered lovingly and in the right proportions.
For Walton's mighty First Symphony the full strength of the orchestra was finally on show. The clicking of bow sticks at the beginning emphasised the nervous rhythmic motif of the first movement. The second movement is styled con malizia, but this could as easily be a marking for the first, thematic material swinging ambiguously between the benign and malign. The tense, terse second movement recalls Beethoven and Shostakovich, with angular rhythms and a shrill intensity. Bleakness inhabits the slow movement, the LSO's remarkable Principal flute sadly intoning over the throbbing accompaniment. And in the final movement, ambiguity is writ large: is it cheerful or menacing? Davis seemed to reign in his forces, the brass less brittle, the performance solid rather than brilliant.
Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigourfilm
Bannatyne leaves Dragon's DenTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: ‘Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and chairs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'
- 4 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
- 5 Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Emergency data law: David Cameron plots to bring back snoopers’ charter
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action