Superlatives are not enough for this superb concert. Anticipation was palpably high throughout the enthusiastic audience, quickly confirmed by American cellist Lynn Harrell as he wove magic with Leipzig’s Gewandhausorchester and conductor Riccardo Chailly in Shostakovich’s mind-teasing concerto No 2, written towards the end of the composer’s life.
In spite of 14 acoustic doors being ajar, there was wonderful clarity from large forces on stage. Harrell has a genius for pianissimos disappearing into breathless stillness, matched by the totally engaged orchestra in a thought-provoking introductory largo.
Not long however for quirky effects to tease the mind with irresistible piccolo highlights, spiky interjections from xylophone, use of slapstick, distant horn calls: challenging innovative excitements throughout.
A second cadenza is accompanied by mesmerising pianissimo tambourine trilling, more eerie ‘bird pecking’ effects from percussionists accompany the final aural vanishings – surely unique in the repertoire? Breathtaking interpretations throughout.
Paris, Dublin and finally Symphony Hall. This short tour finished on a high note of aching romance with passionate warmth in sweeping strings and obvious focussed commitment throughout the orchestra. Chailly certainly stirred the marrow in Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony, being rewarded by
fine playing and secret smiles between colleagues for the lovely clarinet solo in the Adagio. Heart-stopping phrases led progressively to almost unbearable heights, with the full ensemble playing their hearts out, plus good balance always allowing space for individual contributions.
We were all caught in a golden cage of luscious sound, with every tune a BIG tune. Rachmaninov at his most heart-rending, earning great cheers and uproarious applause from an emotionally-drained audience.