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Power and Delicacy

Beate Toyka plays Grieg's piano concerto,


I've got a soft spot for Grieg's Piano Concerto. He may not have been one of music's natural large-scale thinkers, but he really did pull it off with this work, managing to combine a symphonic reach with his lovably individual personality.

Beate Toyka, German-born one-time pupil of Hamish Milne and now based in Derbyshire, was the soloist with Derby Concert Orchestra and conductor Jonathan Trout (Derby Concert Orchestra, St Mary's Church, Wirksworth, Derbyshire, UK, 17 May 2008). Her playing combined power and delicacy, and she established a fine sense of rapport with her colleagues. The first movement cadenza was dramatic, although a firmer sense of momentum was needed in the movement as a whole. The opening of the second movement is Grieg at his most magical, and soloist and orchestra together created a wonderful sense of atmosphere.

Sibelius' 5th Symphony quickly settled after a shaky start. The many stretches of tremolando string writing were full of latent power, while the big transition to the second half of the movement was impressive, although the move to the final presto was not so subtly done. Ensemble in the second movement was not always tight, and the finale's quiet central string passage came seriously unglued. Everything was safely back on track, however, for the big final build-up, and those isolated chords at the end were as majestic as ever.

The concert started with Berlioz' Corsair overture, a bit cautious to begin with but blazing with energy by the end.

Copyright © 24 May 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK




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