Classical: Highly strung
Maxim Vengerov, Philharmonia/James Levine Royal Festival Hall, SBC, London
Tuesday 16 December 1997
Levine's conducting was strongest in the finale, where the swift tempo suited the mood and the principal theme donned a rustic lilt, though the Tragic Overture that opened the concert was also fairly impressive, what with its surging string lines, heavily stessed accents and confident grasp of structure. Certainly, there was little suggestion of the impatience, even irritability, that marred the first movement of the Fourth Symphony, where Levine erected an impenetrable wall of sound, pushed the pace, pressed the strings to uncomfortable steeliness and generally bulldozed his way through some of the most equivocal pages in Brahms's orchestral output. What, I wonder, had happened to the acute mind that, earlier in the evening, had shaped the Overture with such intelligence? Even the Andante moderato seemed uncomfortably tense (the lustrous string tune at its centre had an air of desperation about it), and the Scherzo, although energetic, stopped short of exultation. The Passacaglia finale was again swift and unyielding - I'm tempted to say "post-Toscaninian", except that Toscanini himself was invariably more flexible. Orchestral execution fluctuated between good and scrappy, with Andrew Smith's timpani raising a storm from the rear. The concert's close brought courteous acknowledgement of the various instrumental choirs and section leaders, which made Levine's rude treatment of Brahms all the more conspicuous. Like words spoken in anger, it was best forgotten.
Life & Style blogs
Teenagers irritable because early school hours mess with their biological clocks
The Fappening: After the third wave of leaked celebrity photos, why can't we stop it?
iOS 8: how to free up memory on your iPhone or iPad to install the update
The truth about student sex workers: it's far from Belle Du Jour
France announces world’s toughest anti-smoking laws
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 2 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 3 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before character like Homer or Lisa
- 4 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
- 5 Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
- < Previous
- Next >
£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...
£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...
£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Science Supply Teacher position...