Saturday, May 17, 2008

Easy on the ear

...and so it was the final concert of the season of the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra (LKO) tonight, in a Filharmonija that was rather better filled than for Justus Frantz's Mahler a fortnight ago. Both concerts were sponsored by the German embassy for their 'German Cultural Spring' festival, both had conductors associated with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival (today it was Rolf Beck). And David Geringas, also associated with that festival, was again in the audience.

It was a very LKO sort of programme - a Mozart symphony (38), a Haydn violin concerto and a Schubert symphony (6). Not sure whether it was entirely necessary to play every single repeat in the Mozart! But the orchestra played well, with nice dynamics, a bit of tension here and there - it was good. The second fiddles sat opposite the firsts which allowed for an interesting, and very visible, dialogue between the groups.

Susanna Yoko Henkel, who's been here before, playing with the National Symphony Orchestra, this time offered Haydn's first violin concerto. It's a very traditional concerto, with harpsichord and string orchestra - though the harpsichord was inaudible. It's also a very lovely little concerto, very rarely heard, and Ms Henkel played it beautifully, rough where it needed roughness and lyrical where it needed lyricism. It was not, as it can be in Lithuania, all beautiful (and boring). This was really fun, and she seemed to enjoy herself very much. So did we. There were a few moments of slightly iffy intonation and attack in places with much figuration, but these were rare. The first movement cadenza was great! She followed this with a bit of Bach, which also suffered slightly, tinily, from inaccuracies - the Haydn had been better.

Finally Schubert's sixth. My heart tends to sink a bit at Schubert, having sat in a symphony (unfinished?) where in one movement, for the entire duration of the movement, the violas go 'teedle-ti-dee' non-stop. Some of his other works can be rather non-ending, too. On the other hand, there is beautiful chamber music, like that quintet with two cellos which is to die for. Listening to this symphony I thought that yes, Schubert does repeat stuff an awful lot (so even the thickest audience member leaves the hall whistling a bit of the tune), but the way the melodies bopped round the orchestra was really very, very nice. In this the flutes, which have a major part to play, took a little while to settle down, and sometimes a melody went missing in the winds; the oboes dropped something at one stage, and the bassoons, taking it on, were a bit inaudible. Otherwise it was very nice - the strings really played very well indeed, and Rolf Beck had them well in his hand in terms of dynamics, attack and surprising - and suspending - pauses.

A nice end to the season. Let them keep up this standard next year!