Photo, Andy Paradise

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Royal Albert Hall, London

The London-Bucharest time difference got me this,, and then the Tonhalle’s Prom, both live. If the repertoire was ‘safe’, not reflecting Paavo Järvi’s versatility and openness to the new and obscure, we did at least get a relative rarity from Beethoven (Opus 124 – coming between the Missa solemnis and the ‘Choral’ Symphony) composed to open a venue in Vienna, music too often dismissed, wholly unfairly. Järvi, together with his splendid orchestra, ensured that this magnificent Overture’s ceremonial, ornamental, transporting and exhilarating aspects were in place – plenty of detail, distinctive timbres, and singular purpose.

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto has faded from my favourites these days – nevertheless Augustin Hadelich gave a bravura and expressive account of it – quite brilliant at times as well as eloquent – and Järvi’s accompaniment was in the luxury class in terms of complementing the soloist as well keeping the ear in touch with the scoring. For an uninhibited encore, Hadelich went bluegrass, an Appalachian fiddle tune.

As for Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony (‘From the New World’) – fresh-faced, vivid, sensitive, energetic, spacious. True, the first-movement exposition (repeated) was rather sectional, yet it didn’t seem to matter, one of numerous personal touches from Järvi that new-minted the music, no-one playing suggesting any sign of suffering from ennui – impossible anyway given the conductor’s wild (Slavonic) tempo for the Scherzo (every timpani note wonderfully crisp though) or the elemental charge through the Finale, which on another day might have been heard as rushed, with the cor anglais-led Largo a model of shape and feeling. For a fast-slow-fast encore, a snippet from Hugo Alfvén’s ballet score The Mountain King; the Tonhalle strings do prestissimo unanimity rather well.