with Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra,
appreciated by MIKE WHEELER
And so yet another young female violinist steps up to claim her share of the limelight. St Petersburg-born Alina Pogostkina joined the Hallé Orchestra and conductor Mark Elder (Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, UK, 13 October 2006) in a performance of the Sibelius Concerto that put musical values before pyrotechnics. Not that she isn't capable of delivering the pyrotechnics when required. Her intonation and dexterity cannot be faulted -- the passage in harmonics in the finale was spot-on -- but this was just the foundation for a mature, thoughtful reading that held the attention from first note to last. Her tone, sweet but not over-sweet, suited Sibelius's writing perfectly. Poised in the magical, sparsely-accompanied opening, gripping in the first movement cadenza-cum-development section, her combination of mature technique and musical insight fully justified Elder and the Hallé's faith in her.
To start the concert, Vaughan Williams's First Norfolk Rhapsody was given an ideal combination of transparent sound and compelling atmosphere, with invigoratingly rumbustious playing in the central section.
In the second half Elder and the orchestra took what seems to be an increasingly common approach to Brahms' Second Symphony, probing the darker corners alongside the geniality. From the serene opening, meticulously phrased, with delightfully fresh-sounding solo woodwind, a powerful central climax emerged which prepared the way for a particularly pensive, almost sombre account of the second movement.
The quick sections of the scherzo were engagingly light on their feet, and the finale opened with a joyful rush of energy. But conductor and orchestra still found shadowy places to explore, which made the ending sound all the more jubilant.
Copyright © 24 October 2006
Mike Wheeler, Derby UK
THE HALLÉ ORCHESTRA AND MARK ELDER