Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Royal Albert Hall, London
It was just a few weeks ago that Radio 3 broadcast Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto, a regular in the station’s schedule, and just about everywhere else. (I’m not sure the work, or any piece, is done many favours by endless repetition.) On that occasion the soloist was Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Ludovic Morlot conducted, and here she was again. Trying to ignore R3 presenter Tom Service’s review of the performance before it started, based on the rehearsal, this account disappointed, the soloist trying too hard with tone, disembodied in the first movement, sobbing effects, too, out of place, with the ‘Passacaglia’ third movement emotionally earthbound (unlike, say, the soaring and tear-jerking Mullova on her recording with Previn), and if the second and final movements had a certain charge (the former clapped: “they think it’s all over”) it was the lengthy cadenza into the latter that perhaps was the highlight. As broadcast, the Aurora Orchestra sounded short on personnel and was balanced distantly, not making much impression. With spoken dignity, ‘PatKop’ avoided playing an encore.
The concert’s entrée was Iannis Xenakis’s O-Mega (1997), for a percussionist (Henry Baldwin, from the LPO; pictured) and thirteen instruments: static and abrasive with Baldwin supplying rhythmic propulsion; worth a listen for its few minutes, but Jonchaies, from a couple of evenings ago, isn’t easily dislodged, http://www.colinscolumn.com/bbc-proms-2022-prom-20-martyn-brabbins-conducts-birtwistle-tom-borrow-plays-ravels-g-major-piano-concerto-live-bbc/.
In the second half, Service and Nicholas Collon talked their way through Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, with Aurora-played excerpts, audience participation, and literally drumming the opening four-note motif into our consciousness. Collon was engagingly humorous and while the receptive listener only needs a performance to pick up on most aspects, I for one am enlightened about the kinship between the opening of Mozart 40 and – change the tempo and lower the pitch – the opening of Beethoven’s Scherzo. As for Aurora’s rendition – from memory, quite a feat – it was fast and flowing, without vibrato (which is only one way of presenting this music), vividly detailed, and played excellently with fiery conviction.
An excellent review Col – honest, direct and informed. Thanks.
Agreed, for it tells me I didn’t miss much. I switched off when Service started telling us what we would hear in the Shostakovich. I can do that for myself, thanks very much, and don’t need such advice, and it’s insulting. Too many R3 presenters love to give their opinion, and it’s become irksome.
When Rob Cowan speaks I listen, how I miss his broadcasting. I have a lovely memory of him at The Festival Hall when R3 had a week there and managed to have a word with him. This review is honest and without embroidery, I enjoyed the Collon/Service interlude most interesting and informative.
If you listen closely, there was quite a bit of vibrato…
I took my cue from the Symphony’s opening, although I did notice varieties of vibrato later, which I should have made clear.
In contrast to Rob Cowan this review ( I heard on radio)and the one for August 3(I was present) I find rather irritating because it is just very personal view full of unnecessary details that clutter the text. As an example the remarks on Caroline Shaws piece are very mean and unbalanced. For me some of her sonorities were very appealing. The repeats and pauses give time to feel the sound experiences she is presenting.
The Shostakovich was terrific. A cool still Nocturne but what an exciting cadenza and burlesque.
Once again, it feels like I must have been at a different concert. The atmosphere in the hall during the violin concerto was electric! The soloist’s tone was sensitive; her playing sometimes lyrical and often passionate. Up in the rausing circle it sounded a magnificent performance.