A concert by the Polish National Radio Symphony,
heard by MIKE WHEELER
With such a familiar work as Bruch's First Violin Concerto it must be so easy to just turn out a routine performance and leave it at that. Not on this occasion (Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Assembly Rooms, Derby, UK, 11 November 2009), which compelled attention from bar one. During the first movement, soloist Priya Mitchell appeared to want to linger more than conductor Jacek Kaspszyk, so much so that at times you wondered where there was left for her to go in the slow movement. Her answer came in what was, I think, the slowest performance of this movement I've yet heard. In other hands it could have seemed intolerably drawn-out, but such were Mitchell's powers of concentration that she effortlessly held our attention.
The concert began with an early work by Andrzej Panufnik, his Nocturne of 1947. It was a finely controlled performance, with delicate wisps of sound at the start and finish and a well-sustained climax.
That ability to sustain tension was also a factor in a gripping account of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. In the first movement's introduction there was a wonderful sense of something slowly coming to the boil. The scherzo was lean and athletic, while the finale had a terrific sense of drive without seeming hard-driven. ('This is the Short ride in a fast machine of the nineteenth century', I thought to myself as I was listening.) The orchestral layout, with the violas on the right of the stage, clarified their dialogue with the first violins in the second movement.
Copyright © 24 November 2009