Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Royal Albert Hall, London

Following Entr’acte (for strings) by Caroline Shaw (born 1982) – of pastiches and irritating repetition of simple phrases interspersed by unrelated whimsy (equaling a ragbag of doodles) – Clara-Jumi Kang gave a sweet-toned, open-hearted, poised and intonationally accurate account of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (the E-minor of course, the earlier D-minor is rarely allowed out) that was fresh and enjoyable, accompanied judiciously. Very impressive; the middle movement was lyrically bountiful, and the Finale – ideal tempo, not rushed; in itself, noteworthy – sparkled. No encore, sadly.

Ryan Bancroft did a good job with Mahler Four, the first movement persuasively of different tempos and characters, very well played, whether solos (Tim Thorpe on horn, presumably) or tutti (sinewy woodwinds; refined/outspoken strings). The Devil was in the (heightened) detail in the next movement, Lesley Hatfield’s tone-higher second violin leading the way. Bancroft, having so far encouraged a vivid response went for spacious and intimate in the (here twenty-five-minute) Adagio – lovely oboe contributions – with no lack of passion and distinctions (including a merry and accelerating dance), a forest legend to be told, the end of which brings a Heaven-opening climax and a rapturous envoi, followed by Miah Persson (too closely balanced on the broadcast, orchestra submerged whenever she sang) presenting an older child reporting from the celestial city.