Review: CBSO/Ludovic Morlot/Renaud Capucon, at Symphony Hall, Birmingham
György Ligeti’s violin concerto, with its unique, sometimes bizarre, sound world and unconventional scoring, at first appears to simply cock a snook at the great romantic concerto tradition. But it retains the adversarial element of that tradition.
The French virtuoso Renaud Capuçon battled to be heard over the orchestra – like Everyman pitted against the unrelenting forces of the modern world.
Capuçon was dazzling, in both musicality and sheer physicality, as he tried to outwit his opponents by playing faster, quieter, louder and even by charming them with a beautiful, rapt romantic solo.
Ligeti opposed him with a battery of percussion and deliberately out-of-tune strings and brass, well marshalled by conductor Ludovic Morlot, and the concerto ended in an abrupt and honourable draw.
The CBSO’s wind players excelled in Bartok’s Two Pictures especially in the rumbustious village folk dances.
Morlot was unable to transfer that vigorous and earthy quality to the Pastoral symphony’s rustic merrymaking – Beethoven’s peasants were a sedate bourgeois bunch.
This was a homogenized 21st Century interpretation, slick, quick and neat, with Beethoven’s babbling brook more like a garden water feature. The storm was good but there was not a spark of divinity in the thanksgiving that followed.