Saturday, April 15, 2023
Orchestra Hall, Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan
Bruckner Four has been something of a feature for me recently, http://www.colinscolumn.com/francois-xavier-roth-records-anton-bruckners-fourth-symphony-romantic-1874-score-for-myrios-classics/ and included here, http://www.colinscolumn.com/the-royal-concertgebouw-orchestra-releases-nikolaus-harnoncourt-live-the-radio-recordings-1981-2012/, with Blomstedt and Rattle waiting on my desk. Cued by Karl Pituch’s curvaceous horn solo, Markus Stenz’s reading of the ‘Romantic’ Symphony (1878/81 score, edited Nowak) flowed, if with – during the first movement – pulse-slowing detours into the forest for a legend to be told or majestic mountain-conjuring fortissimos basked in sunlight. The whole was well-judged, however (rather less so the desultory clapping following the first three movements), whether the night-time tread and hush of the slow movement, the sizzling heraldic Scherzo, or the multiplicity of the Finale that ultimately aims high, all relating a palpable rapport between the DSO musicians and the without-baton Stenz, as adept with Bruckner as he is with Birtwistle, http://www.colinscolumn.com/many-happy-returns-to-sir-harrison-birtwistle-87-today/.
In the first half, Beethoven (another Column constant, http://www.colinscolumn.com/jorge-bolet-plays-beethovens-third-piano-concerto-c-minor-opus-37-with-nhk-symphony-orchestra-tokyo/ or http://www.colinscolumn.com/solomons-1956-stereo-recording-of-beethovens-third-piano-concerto-remastered-philharmonia-orchestra-conducted-by-herbert-menges-september-17-abbey-road-studios-first-movement-cadenza-by-clara/ or http://www.colinscolumn.com/claudio-arrau-plays-beethovens-third-piano-concerto-with-the-lso-andre-previn-at-the-1975-salzburg-festival-august-3/), prompted by a purposeful orchestral introduction in readiness for Stephen Hough’s dramatic entry for a fiery, accent-conscious account, the fleet tempo sustained for bristling music-making with numerous complements between pianist and orchestra, the cadenza (Beethoven’s) maintaining Hough’s powerful presence. (Bad form to now allow latecomers in to hold-up the performance for a few tension-sapping minutes.) When the Largo did get underway it was heavenly spacious, avoiding rigidity, and intimately expressed, while the Finale caroused along crisply with fortitude and flourishes, the exuberant C-major coda banishing the designated minor-key, Hough adding some Schumann as an encore, a gently poetic foil.