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<<  -- 2 --  Malcolm Miller    Totally Beethoven


There was a rich, cohesive texture in the second movement's expansive themes, following the dialogues between paired oboe and bassoons, conveyed with expressive conviction, notably their final cadenza in duet. The lively interactions of the breezy Minuetto, and the question and answer for clarinet and bassoon in the Trio, came across with vitality, setting the stage for the riveting Presto finale. Here the clarinet (Karl Durr-Sorensen) propelled the main theme with energy, answered by the rest of the ensemble. There was plenty of wit in the two false returns, before the original theme resumes to conclude with a virtuoso horn flourish (Kevin Elliot and Richard Bayliss) to round off the work with a fizz.

The Romance No 1 in G for violin and orchestra is one of Beethoven's most exquisite essays and it was a pity that, despite his sweet tone, the soloist Martin Smith lacked the necessary level of inspiration, his four square, pedestrian account, sprinkled with intonational problems, faltering towards the final cadence.

By contrast, Panos Karan gave an engaging, energising account of the Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat, with plenty of interaction with the orchestra, who supplied a resonant counterpart to his lucid and sometimes over dry, (under-pedaled) approach. A student at London's Royal Academy of Music with Professor Sulamita Aronovsky yet with a considerable concert experience, Karan's pianism was impressively dramatic and imbued with the ebullient virtuosity appropriate for Beethoven's concerto début of 1795. The piano projected brightly, the themes warmly shaped and the passagework bristling and with sensitive dynamics. The cadenza's fugal opening was arresting, followed by Beethovenian drama and power. The slow movement's theme was poised, the rich cohesive sound enhanced by expressive sustained strings. Here the many details, such as decorative turns, came across with meaning and heartfelt expression. The Rondo finale, with its unexpected modulations, was played with panache and exciting vitality.

Much credit is due to Josefowitz and the LSCO for their championing of new talent as well as involving Beethoven interpretations. The series continues on 16 May 2002 at St Martin-in-the-fields with the less often performed Symphony No 4, the Mass in C and ballet music, and with four more events in May and June.

Copyright © 10 May 2002 Malcolm Miller, London, UK




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