Tuesday’s concert should have allowed us to relish the two greatest works in their respective genres, and both by Beethoven: his Violin Concerto and his Third Symphony, the Eroica, which broke every bounds imaginable and paved the way for everything else that was to follow.
Joshua Bell was soloist in the Concerto, his approach properly Olympian, with no attempt to seek out spurious emotional underlayings, and his playing was both muscular and sweet-toned. But any sense of the music’s huge stature seemed to be skated over.
Bell’s use of his own cadenzas was in keeping with period-practice of the time, and sympathetically attuned to the main meat of the music, but there are majestic, well-used ones which are equally worth his interest.
Riccardo Muti and the Philharmonia Orchestra collaborated efficiently (wonderful woodwind choiring), before launching into the symphony, crisply, soaringly delivered, but too slick to give a sense of the awesome ground-breakingness of this music.
We don’t need a scrappy performance to convey such an idea, but surely something which digs deeper beneath the surface to reveal the countless nuggets this score contains.