Friday, December 22, 2023
Berliner Philharmonie, Herbert-von-Karajan-Straße, Berlin
Beethoven’s B-flat Piano Concerto, published as No.2, opened this relatively short concert, crisp and cosseted from the Berliners and (a seated) Daniel Barenboim, alive and mercurial from Martha Argerich, the first-movement cadenza sounding as if extemporised, with the Finale, launched by her like a champion racehorse leaving the starting gate at an immediate gallop with no need to look back, accompanied deftly; and, in between, a spacious and soulful slow movement. Despite prolonged applause there was no encore from her, or them as a duo (in that guise it has been Schubert). Brahms’s Third Symphony is often described as autumnal; here it was wintery and lethargic, stoical yet a haul, something exacerbated by Barenboim observing the first-movement repeat. The middle movements, both laden with bittersweet sentiments, and Barenboim personalisation, dragged, with the Finale chomping at the bit if not allowed off it. Nevertheless, a standing ovation followed.