Elgar, Rachmaninov and Sibelius
from the Hallé Orchestra,
enjoyed by MIKE WHEELER
Elgar's In The South can seem a bit episodic but Mark Elder and the Hallé (Assembly Rooms, Derby, UK, 19 September 2009) took a longer view and the work emerged as satisfyingly all of a piece. As on a previous occasion, Timothy Pooley's account of the viola solo was hauntingly expressive, and there was an exciting build-up to the work's conclusion.
For Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2 the orchestra was joined by the young Venezuelan pianist Sergio Tiempo. You can see why Martha Argerich took him under her wing. It's not just a matter of fiery temperament, though there was plenty of that. There is also a keen intelligence at work, with a welcome refusal to take this familiar work for granted. How often, for instance, do you hear the dynamics of that opening piano solo so meticulously observed? The intense concentration in the final pages of the second movement was particularly memorable.
After the interval came a thrillingly powerful account of Sibelius' Fifth Symphony. The first movement came across in a virtually seamless sweep, apart from one slight but noticeable gear-change in the continuously accelerating second half. The slowing up at the approach to the final pages of the finale involved no loss of momentum, and I don't think I've ever heard the detached final chords tingle with such vitality.
The encore, though, I could have done without.
Copyright © 26 September 2009