CBSO * * * *
at Symphony Hall
Review by Norman Stinchcombe
Antti Siirala’s successes at the world’s leading piano competitions in recent years are not surprising if the young Finn’s performance of Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto is a reliable indicator of his talent.
The articulation and clarity of his playing was almost Pollini-like, making one realise how often the trills in this work are smudged or merely gestured at. One always felt that he had plenty in reserve in the demanding first movement, while the andante was poetic without being over-indulgent – conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya ensuring that Beethoven’s "con moto" was not ignored.
Only in the finale did Siirala’s playing seem a little po-faced, not as vivacious as it might have been, but that’s a minor reservation about an impressive performance.
There was no shortage of exuberance in the CBSO’s playing here or in the rest of a colourful programme. Peruvian-born Harth-Bedoya’s keen sense of rhythm meant that the suite from Falla’s flamenco-inspired work El Amor Brujo had great gusto, especially the famous ritual fire-dance.
Mendelssohn’s an easy composer to underrate, but the joyous start of the Italian Symphony, the music leaping away like a sprinter from the blocks, has the mark of genius. The dancing, quickfire finale also went splendidly, a burst of musical sunshine on a winter’s afternoon.
Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov’s Last Round, a Birmingham Contemporary Music Group commission, is an homage to tango king Astor Piazzolla.
To the innocent ear the strongly-accented driving rhythms and glissando string effects of its first section brought to mind Bartok.
However, given Golijov’s polyglot musical style, which links tango and Jewish klezmer music from Eastern Europe, that impression’s not too surprising.
The second section, a long exhalation after the first’s energy, ended in a romantic sigh.