Some works need to have their greatness coaxed out of them (some Brahms), others are great because they cannot be ‘destroyed’ by a mediocre performance (Mozart). Still others are simply ‘good music’, variously dependent on their interpretation – and offering entertainment, just not that sense of elatedness. To my, probably biased, ears, Édouard Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole belongs to that last group.
It is also much more difficult to hear the soloist’s greatness in the Symphonie espagnole than, say, the Beethoven or Sibelius concerti. It’s a lovely showpiece of reasonable substance, and playing it well and flawlessly is really all it takes to do it well.
E.Lalo, Symphonie espagnole et al.,
I.Perlman / D.Barenboim / O.d.Paris
E.Lalo, Danzas fantásticas et al.,
J.Mena / BBC PO
Fluff, well executed and entertaining though it was, gave way to meatier fare with Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances. A brash affair with lots of dogged determination and short on grace. For all the dainty dancing with which conductor Kirill Petrenko tried to elicit sounds from the BRSO, the result was rather foursquare and duty-bound. The lazy waltzing of the Andante con moto wasn’t just meaty, it was doughy. The Lento assai – Allegro vivace with its many premature climaxes was terribly excited but ultimately drove home the point that all these dances were a musical diet too one-sided.
Vadim Repin will perform with Nikolai Lugansky on November 15th in the Kennedy Center.