You can always rely on the American pianist, conductor and academic Robert Levin to come up with something out of the ordinary. Not just in the way he performs Mozart, but in the repertoire he digs up to go with it.
Scottish Chamber Orchestra: Robert Levin - Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
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Last night’s opener from the SCO was a case in point – an Overture in D by the hugely eccentric Anton Reicha, better known as a friend of Beethoven and teacher of Berlioz than as a composer in his own right. Yet everything about this piece, and of Levin’s high-octane reading of it, pointed to an individual and progressive voice. Who else in Beethoven’s day would have risked a 5-in-the-bar romp like this and get away with it. Fun and frolics all the way with Levin gouging out its inner soul with incisive clarity.
Then to Mozart, with Levin himself at the piano, adding lightning sparks to his performance of the Piano Concerto in D, K451 by improvising its cadenzas on the spot. It’s an approach that adds palpable risk, in which you find yourself willing him to make all the right harmonic twists and turns, and somehow to knit together the re-entry of the orchestra. He did, of course.
Visceral insight and energy lit every inch of Schubert’s Symphony No 2, and with it a flamboyant end to a boisterous concert and the main SCO season.