Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Isarphilharmonie, Hans-Preißinger-Straße 8, 81379 München

This January is Brahms month for the Munich Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta – at home, in Spain and (February) at Carnegie Hall. Introduced by an especially lyrical horn solo, the Second Piano Concerto was given a magnificent performance by Yefim Bronfman – leonine, poised, powerful, intimate, dynamic, hardly a note smudged or dropped – backed to the hilt by Mehta and the Philharmonic, sharing passions and tender expressions; of the latter, in the third movement, because of Mehta using antiphonal violins with cellos centre-left, the latter section’s principal was as adjacent to Bronfman as he could get, beautiful sharing from all concerned, especially the oboist, a reverie created, riposted by a lightly articulated, joyous in the home straight, Finale. By way of an encore, Bronfman offered an unsentimental if picturesque traversal of a Chopin Nocturne. It was a pleasure to then listen to Mehta’s expansive approach to Brahms’s Second Symphony, beguilingly shaped and detailed, with much affection and eloquence, bringing out aspects that do not always make it through, deeply felt in the slow movement, the Finale unrushed and triumphant, culminating with a coda of crowning glory. (video available free for forty-eight hours from ten-o’clock a.m. today, January 27)