THE last concert in the LSO’s symphonic juxtaposition of Szymanowski and Brahms concluded with another gripping performance from the orchestra and star turns from the soloists.
Star rating: * * *
Szymanowski’s Symphony No 4 is really a piano concerto cum concertante in disguise, but what it’s called matters little in this firework of a piece.
Denis Matsuev is a strong and energetic pianist, essential attributes for his combat with an orchestra juggling the rhapsodic lushness of Ravel with the wit of Shostakovich and the ghost of Bartok. While the work fizzes with ideas, the sheer onslaught can be wearying.
By contrast, Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No 2, tethered to a more conventional structure and tonality and focusing on a few solid themes, was a much more relaxed affair. Its brilliance was as understated as Leonidas Kavakos’ intensely lyrical performance.
Curiously, conductor Valery Gergiev was practically invisible during the first half of the concert, quietly keeping everything on course while the soloists took the limelight.
T his uncharacteristic low-key approach continued in Brahms’ Symphony No 4 in E minor, not altogether to good effect.
While the tranquil, full-bodied string sound in the first movement was like a palette cleanser after Szymanowski, by the second movement, this slow burn began to stretch the languid phrases to the limit. Fortunately, the scherzo intervened, but the baroque/romantic melange of the finale also lacked that vital spark.