Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Southbank Centre, London – Royal Festival Hall

The LPO and its conductor emeritus Vladimir Jurowski opened the second half with the world premiere of Brett Dean’s fifteen-minute Notturno inquieto (Revisitato), originally for Berlin and Rattle and now this “restless nocturne” has been looked at again by the composer, music that conveys the heightened if disorienting nature of being awake during the night – shadows, eerie tension, pulse racing – not so much things going bump as external forces warping the senses in this subtly and variedly orchestrated gripping piece that eventually rises and speeds to an imagination that runs to an overdose of sensations.

Standing alone in the first half had been Shostakovich’s ubiquitous First Violin Concerto, which found Alina Ibragimova replacing Leonidas Kavakos (travel restrictions) for a reading that was as much about the LPO as her, for while she was undoubtedly totally in touch with the music – whether numbed, spiky, grieving or fiery – and a master of the notes, as such, a lack of tone in louder passages (as broadcast) and strained-for intensity rather limited her contribution, although she probed the extended cadenza to pertinent effect. (Ibragimova and Jurowski have recorded both Shostakovich Violin Concertos for Hyperion.)

Closing the concert, Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony in a performance that brought out all the music’s power, passion, nostalgia and volatility, as well as the superb orchestration. A shame to lose the first-movement exposition repeat (although the composer does similarly on his Philadelphia recording, echoed later by Ormandy) but there’s no doubting that Jurowski connected with the complex emotional states that this great Symphony conveys, the LPO in virtuoso form, whether in the scherzo-like section of the bittersweet second movement, the Finale’s fugue or, in conclusion, driving the music over the edge.