OAE/Bruggen, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
Thursday 20 February 2003
It must be more than 40 years since Frans Brüggen first attracted international fame as a Puckish young flute and recorder virtuoso. Now, a revered father-figure of the period- performance movement and joint principal guest conductor with Simon Rattle of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, he appears gaunt and stooped. But his interpretative approach to the classical repertoire remains inspirational as ever and this latest programme in the South Bank's Haydn: The Creative Genius series abounded in surprises.
It has, for instance, become "authentic" orthodoxy to reduce the number of strings in the earlier symphonies to the tiny forces Haydn had to hand. But Brüggen fielded the OAE's full complement of 25 players in the Symphony No 6 in D "Le Matin", creating a warm amplitude of sound against which this "characteristic" symphony's many concertante solos – the florid violin and cello in the slow movement; the serio-comic bassoon in the trio – stood out the more vividly. His approach to the austere Symphony No 26 "Lamentatione" with its snatches of Holy Week plainchart, was even more remarkable: almost perversely disregarding the headlong drive most performances find in the wiry first movement for a penitential doggedness, yet lavishing the most varied and haunting nuances on the minuet which, exceptionally, ends this symphony.
After the interval, the OAE's principal trumpet, David Blackadder, gave the late Trumpet Concerto in E flat on a modern copy of the instrument Haydn wrote it for. This was an "improved" model of the 1790s with keys to facilitate chromatic notes, if, it seemed, at some cost of security and a certain huskiness of tone, at least at the fierce pace Brüggen set for the finale.
His tempo for the minuet of the great "London" Symphony No 102 was also astonishingly fast, as if to suggest Haydn was about to invent the scherzo. But this only retrospectively heightened the wondrousness of the preceding slow movement, with its sinuous, almost Berliozian, melodic line, aching harmony and faintly sinister muted brass – Haydn as hyper-Romantic!
In the opening movement there were moments where the cumulative intensities of the evening seemed to tell on the players in loose ensemble and suspect intonation, but the spirit blazed through. To write a work capable of moving and delighting audiences of 200 years hence would surely be any composer's dream. To have written more than 100 is a miracle.
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Technology company Alibaba posts job advert asking for 'stunning' women with qualities of adult film actress Sora Aoi
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
- 4 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Jorge Luis Borges fan brings his infinite library to life online
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils