Music and Vision homepage



Fire in its Belly

Lothar Zagrosek conducts
the Konzerthausorchester, Berlin,


One of Haydn's best jokes occurs in the opening movement of his Symphony 87. The music goes quiet, leading to nearly three bars of silence, but instead of being followed by the expected outburst it carries on as before for a few moments, then comes the outburst. It was a moment to cause a real chuckle in Lothar Zagrosek's reading with the Konzerthausorchester, Berlin, formerly known as the Berlin Symphony Orchestra (Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, UK, 5 March 2009). Using a medium sized-band and with minimum vibrato, the sound had a clear, grainy quality that was very attractive. The oboe solo in the minuet's trio section was delightful. It all added up to some of the most engaging Haydn playing I've heard.

Moscow-born US resident Natasha Paremski's subtle shadings and liquid finger-work contributed to an engrossing performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 4. She was able to create moments of stillness in the first movement without threatening to bring the music to a halt, and her concentration in the cadenza was edge-of-the-seat stuff. There was a palpable sense of inwardness to the second movement, while soloist and the orchestra found both the gruff and the playful sides to the humour in the finale.

After the interval came a reading of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony with fire in its belly, and vitality in every detail. (After the first movement someone behind me muttered 'Wow!') Intensity in the second movement was matched by rampaging energy in the scherzo, and a lucidity to the fugues in the finale.

My usual grumble about anti-climactic encores follows, but at least they were novel and well-chosen -- the slow movement of Mozart's Symphony 27 and the Tambourin from Rameau's Les Fêtes d'Hébé.

Copyright © 26 March 2009 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK


 << M&V home       Concert reviews        Derwent Singers >>