Classical Music Review: Keeping it all in the family
Thursday 25 September 1997
RFH, SBC, London
The first Philharmonia concert of the current South Bank season saw Kurt Sanderling conducting solid, patient and characteristically considered accounts of Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms. Beethoven's overture Leonora No 3 was kept very much on an even keel, with sober speeds, hushed string playing in the quieter passages, a rather four-square off-stage trumpet and a vigorous coda scuffed by untidy strings.
Mitsuko Uchida gave a memorable account of the Schumann piano concerto, powerfully italicised in the opening chords, fluid and malleable in accompanying passages (her response to the Intermezzo's heart-rending cello melody especially tender) and with a flowing cantabile in the central episodes of the first movement. Uchida would cross her arms during tutti passages as if shielding herself from the cold; she looked just a little fragile, even vulnerable, and yet her command of the situation was absolute, her overall interpretation precisely focused.
Sanderling conducted a sympathetic accompaniment, but his handling of Brahms's Symphony No 2, while typically structure-conscious, was oddly featureless. Best was the string playing - especially in the second and fourth movements, and that rather ominous passage in the slow movement where the trombone and bass-tuba answer each other. But phrase- shaping elsewhere sounded prosaic and the finale only caught fire in the closing bars. It wasn't so much sluggish tempi that put the dampers on, as what seemed like a lack of involvement - untypical of such a master Brahmsian.
As it was, Kurt Sanderling's distinguished life and career had already been celebrated on Sunday night in a Wigmore Hall concert marking his 85th birthday. Mitsuko Uchida was the prompting inspiration and she opened the programme with forceful, big-toned accounts of Schubert's Fifth and Third Impromptus. The Fifth features some exquisite dialoguing between the bass and the treble, which Uchida charted with unusual urgency, rushing or retreating as the musical mood dictated. Her warm, fluid touch brushed at the mellifluous G major but, again, not without a suggestion of anguish - especially in the central section.
The evening also included contributions from Sanderling's wife Barbara and from two of his sons, cellist Michael and conductor Stefan. Michael joined Uchida in Brahms's heroic Second Cello Sonata, a fiercely assertive rendition marked by bold piano playing and a vibrant if somewhat nasal cello tone. After the interval, the Wigmore's compact stage was filled to capacity by 12 wind-players of the Philharmonia and Barbara Sanderling on double-bass for a robust, if unsubtle, reading of four movements from Mozart's great Serenade No 10 (or Gran Partita). I've heard more sensitive readings of the heavenly Adagio, and the promised sixth movement was for some reason replaced by the zestful Finale, but it was an invigorating encounter none the less and the audience raised a hearty cheer as Uchida reappeared to present the venerable Kurt with a well-deserved bouquet.
Life & Style blogs
Men in tights: getting to the bottom of the latest trend
Snapchat removed the Best Friends list feature and 'stalkers' are upset
Night Nurse could put drivers over new drug limit
Stephen Hawking: NHS is Britain's finest public service and must be preserved from commercial interests
Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: We are currently looking for a Geog...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...