Sunday, October 14, 2007

A broken dawn

Home at 3, in the concert hall at 7 pm. An evening of Brahms, Britten and Prokofiev, conducted by Justin Brown, who appears to be one of IMG's artists. IMG takes only the best people - so what went wrong last night?

Britten's sea interludes were a disaster. I must admit to liking them very very much, and having the original Britten/Pears recording; plus I have heard them I don't know how many times whilst living in the UK. So I may have higher than normal expectations (plus, since I had to start the applause at the end, I may have been the only one in the hall who is thoroughly familiar with them). Hearing bits of the piece being practiced backstage before the concert suggested a certain level of fear (though the orchestra has played the piece before). The problem was that the lushness of the piece, and the very long, single lines just did not come out. The beginning of 'Dawn' which should be a very long uninterrupted line was upbow, downbow, upbow instead of upbowdownbowupbow. The cellos had a lovely lush line, but it was just thin. The violins got the line back, the conductor emoted like crazy, but nothing happened. The second movement had a rhythmic section where the fiddles fell all over the place! I fear there was no communication between the conductor and the orchestra, and no leadership from the front chair (that is a bit of an issue; he's a lovely lovely guy, and plays his solos beautifully, but he needs to lead at least his own section; if he does not move at the very least his back off the back of the chair, they cannot see what they should do). It was a shame.

Soloist Lidia Baich then took on Prokofiev's first violin concerto which she played with lots of enthusiasm, and a very interesting interpretation indeed. Her sound was a bit little, but otherwise she did very well. It seems she's a former young musician of the year (Europe), and she certainly was very comfortable and at home with the piece, having clearly put much thought into how to communicate the piece - I can see why she wins prizes. There was not a note out of place either. She also seems quite good at self-promotion, though I am glad to see the links to the pictures of her pets (a kitten) seem to have stopped functioning.

Finally we had Brahms' second symphony which went quite well, with no major glitches. Again, though, the orchestra seemed to go into autodrive, while the conductor was waving his hands about like crazy. But here the orchestra did seem to warm up at least, and they enjoyed it. But there was not a 'Bravo' in the house.

Interestingly Justin Brown has a very impressive CV, but on yesterday's showing it just did not come off.