Sunday, July 3, 2022

Max-Littmann-Saal, Bad Kissingen, Bavaria

The concert opened with Schubert’s Fifth Symphony, a sprightly yet elegant first movement with edgily prominent horns and details in the strings that often remain buried. The slow movement was especially fine – spacious and eloquently turned, warmly sounded – with the following Minuet rather emphatic and the Trio a little lethargic, and then a well-paced/articulate Finale, Kent Nagano wisely leaving out the exposition repeat which otherwise only underlines Schubert’s prolixity.

Following the interval something meatier, Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto with Nikolai Lugansky, hornist and pianist in agreement as to how the opening phrases, Lugansky quite restrained in the bravura writing that leads into the orchestra’s first statement, rather dreamy in places from Nagano, for an expansive first movement that didn’t so much ignite as exist, Lugansky in command of Brahms’s thickets of notes if not always the emotions that lay beneath them, but when he was the orchestra responded positively, and more so in the passions of the second movement for all that the tempo was fairly leisurely. The cello solo opening the Andante was richly expressed, the player adjacent to Lugansky, which makes duo sense, the cello section itself seated left of centre, and also with mellifluous oboe contributions, Lugansky sensitive enough to not break the reverie with his first entry. The Finale was relaxed yet pointed, more ‘Hungarian’ than usual, not least in the piano’s cimbalom allusions, although, in relationship, the coda was rather too speedy.

The broadcast sound varied, clear and immediate in the Schubert, a little distant and muddy in the Brahms although the piano was accorded a concert-hall balance with the DSO, which of course reflected the occasion.

Kent Nagano.