A fascinating mixed feast with rare Hungarian fare, tasty Beethoven and luscious Debussy. All dished up by our splendid CBSO and principal guest chef d’orchestre, Edward Gardner.
31-year-old Bartok wrote his Four Orchestral Pieces Op.12 for a large orchestra, initially expressing ghostly transparencies – hinting of characteristic impassioned Magyar resonances, whilst the scherzo delivered foot-tapping taut rhythms with thrilling ‘full on’ brass.
Sensational glimpses of mature characteristic Bartok, incorporated imaginative East European stringency from woodwinds which contrasted splendidly with wild strings and a lugubrious tam tam.
A breath of thoughtful fresh air from Beethoven followed with his Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor in the care of talented soloist Ingrid Fliter.
The reduced orchestra matched well with the pianist’s enthusiasm, apart from an occasional curious sense of distance from upper strings.
Sensitive clarity from the piano with lovely tenderness in the magical Largo movement highlighted hefty high spirits in the concluding rondo.
Chopin’s hectic Minute Waltz encore lost against the clock, as ever.
Three movements of total inspiration from magical Debussy caressed the mind and excited the spirit with Images for orchestra. Wonderful and satisfyingly challenging to play, this is music of the best for the best.
Gardner could have risked letting more individual expressiveness shine through however, trust is necessary for that special bond between baton and sound. Significant dynamics give far more colour. Be daring.
Please – where were proper musical dancers’ hand castanets?
Travesties on sticks cannot be phrased, or heard properly and were initially invented for junior schools. We needed to dance in Spain!