Ehnes / LSO / Noseda

The London Symphony Orchestra have programmed no fewer than eight violin concertos for the current season, with guest soloists including Viktoria Mullova and Nikolaj Znaider. Tuesday night's visitor was the Canadian James Ehnes, who put his delicate sensibilities at the service of Bartók's second contribution to the genre. Composed in the late 1930s – with one ear directed toward the rise of fascism, and the other turned to the conservative critics complaining about his progressive, atonal style – the work combines elements of 12-tone serialism, nostalgic lyricism and folk dance, all couched in the swashbuckling rhetoric of the Romantic concerto.

What all this is supposed to be in aid of, I've never been certain. And I'm not sure Gianandrea Noseda is much clearer either. Peering into his score, he seemed hesitant about what he wanted the orchestra to do. Ehnes, despite taking some time to get going, brought some wonderfully distinguished touches to the solo part, but even his exquisite turn of phrase failed to impart more than a fleeting sense of purpose to the work.

More successful was Noseda's smooth and ultimately very powerful account of Prokofiev's sixth symphony and a new piece by Ian Vine. Called Individual Object, the work consisted of a densely structured chord that transformed itself from an angry-seeming gesture into one that shone with clarity. Although an awkward partner to Prokofiev and Bartók, Vine is worth listening out for.

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