Robert R. Reilly once again lends Ionarts his roving ears, this time from London.
Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra opened their concert on Thursday evening, October 1st, with the Mozart Symphony No. 34. The warm glow of the Barbican acoustics perfectly matched the warmth of Davis’ rendition in which Mozart’s music was leisurely savored. This was mellow Mozart, quite at the opposite interpretive pole to that of, for example, Charles Mackerras’ speedy, if not frenetic renditions with the Prague Chamber Orchestra on Telarc. Yes, I know the Mackerras is exciting, but I grew especially to love Mozart’s later symphonies through the approach of Josef Krips (in the venerable recordings with the Concertgebouw Orchestra on Phillips), in which the singing lines are emphasized—almost as if the works were really instrumental operas. In this respect, the LSO sang beautifully, with every shade of nuance finely expressed. Davis was so leisurely in the Andante that it conveyed a kind of delicious sleepiness. This brush with somnolence made the contrast with the spiritedness of the Finale: Allegro vivace all the more pronounced, and Davis brought the celebration to a joyous close. The audience reaction made it clear that I am not alone in appreciating this style of Mozart playing.
Radu Lupu joined
Carl Nielsen, Symphony No.5 & Concertos et al.,
Kubelik / Danish RSO
Nielsen’s’ Fifth is, in certain respects, a reprise of his Fourth Symphony, the Inextinguishable. Some of its themes are variations of what is heard in the Fourth, and the story line is familiar: the forces of life gently dawning; the forces of life getting tromped on by the anti-life forces; the forces of life fighting back and emerging triumphant. Nielsen follows this scenario a couple of times in the two-part 5th. The Inextinguishable is one of the greatest symphonic expressions of this theme, and the Fifth Symphony does not quite achieve the same stature. However, whatever the similarities, it does distinguish itself from the Fourth with its unconventional shape. In the program notes,
It is hard to single out sections of the LSO for special praise in the Fifth because it was so outstandingly superb in all departments. This is great symphonic music that makes maximal demands, and it was played by an orchestra that met them in exactly the kind of triumph that Nielsen was trying to express.
(The program repeats on Sunday, October 4.)