<< -- 2 -- Robert Anderson VIRTUOSO DEMANDS
Lutoslawski and Sibelius needed 20-minute breathing spaces to make their
impression, but now orchestra and conductor could come into their own. The
plangent weaving of clarinet and flute over the lugubrious trudge of the
lower instruments set the atmosphere for Lutoslawski's Fourth Symphony in
a cogent and multi-faceted performance [listen to
the opening]. Here the virtuoso demands are spread throughout the orchestra,
which played as if familiarity had bred nothing but excitement.
Stephen Johnson's programme note for the Sibelius quoted the conflicting
views of Mahler and Sibelius on the nature of the symphony. There's room
for both, but as an unabashed Sibelian, I feel Mahler cycles might give
way to Sibelius with advantage to us all, to say nothing of time saved.
Here Thomas Dausgaard dispensed with his score and presided over a performance
that was deft and lightweight rather than recalling the rugged brow that
seems the essence of Sibelius's features and music. Lutoslawski gives only
metronome marks as movement headings; Sibelius eschews them and runs consequent
risks. Things went remarkably well in the opening Allegretto. One
of Dausgaard's distinguishing virtues is his ability to achieve a real,
vibrant pp, and the first movement attained the 'profound logic'
Sibelius required of a symphony [listen -- first movement
of Sibelius]. The rest of the work was telling in each of its parts
but did not quite add up to a convincing whole. Dausgaard is a conductor
with remarkable gifts and a fine ear for balance and quality of sound. All
that is needed now is an architectural sense based on the sort of study
the professional round so rarely allows. He could be a great conductor in
the making; meanwhile the BBC Philharmonic clearly relished playing for
him, and did so magnificently.
Copyright © 16 August 2001
Robert Anderson, London, UK
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