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Switzerland Brahms, Beethoven: Leonidas Kavakos (violin), Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Daniel Harding (conductor). Tonhalle, Zurich, 15.11.2022. (JR)

Daniel Harding conducts the RCO not too long ago in London © Mark Allan

Brahms – Violin Concerto Op.77

Beethoven – Symphony No.6 ‘Pastoral’ Op.68

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra are coming to the tip of a short European tour with this live performance, which they carried out in London a short time in the past. A really regulation programme clearly designed not solely to fill the live performance corridor (it was certainly full to the final seat and encouragingly with many kids, together with music college students) but in addition to indicate off the famend heat of the RCO’s orchestral sound. It was paired in London, on one other night, with Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, however we have been disadvantaged of that individual pleasure on this whistle-stop tour spherical Swiss cities, kindly sponsored by Migros Kulturprozent Classics.

The Brahms Violin Concerto has many technical difficulties, double-stops, compound chords and vast leaps; Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos isn’t any stranger to this work, and masters the hurdles with ease. Kavakos additionally has full command of the construction of the work, moulding every phrase with care. He turns to the Chief of the primary violins to co-ordinate entries and retains a agency eye on the conductor when wanted. This was an exemplary efficiency; I can’t think about a finer one. It was muscular and virile; the thrilling first motion was totally mesmerising. The lengthy cadenza and the tender sluggish motion had the viewers spellbound. Daniel Harding accompanied with grace and sensitivity, however all eyes and ears have been on the soloist. The livid finale had Kavakos attacking his instrument with gusto, often at the price of some intonation, however all the time bounding together with joyful abandon. It was vastly fulfilling and was met with the loudest applause I’ve heard on the Tonhalle for an extended whereas. We have been rewarded by a prolonged extract from Bach’s Sonata No.3; Kavakos has described Bach’s music because the most interesting music ever written.

The Beethoven which adopted made us think about the orchestra. Harding positioned the gamers antiphonally, with the second violins to his proper, the cellos centre and the 5 double basses lined up alongside the again. The result’s a homogenous string sound, with explicit prominence given aurally and visually to the hard-working double basses. Strings are mellow fairly than clear, and superbly blended. Characterful woodwind soloists stood out; I point out only one, Russian oboist Alexei Ogrintchouk. His solely weak point is to ostentatiously carry his bell fairly too typically.

The sluggish motion stood out for the gossamer high quality of the string taking part in, notably by the second violins. The principal clarinet, flute and oboe continued to astound with their approach and elegant sound. The orchestra made us pay attention afresh to this work, so acquainted to so many however surprisingly uncommon in live performance these days, when many hanker for a ‘heavier’ symphony within the second half of live shows.

The storm interlude was most spectacular, with the timpanist altering to onerous sticks. This was taking part in of the very best order, cementing the RCO’s place as undoubtedly one of many world’s most interesting orchestras. Daniel Harding clearly has a wonderful rapport with the orchestra. Harding’s consideration to element, his command of the dynamics and his phrasing have been all admirable.

The orchestra is in an extended interregnum interval, as they wait for his or her new Finnish Principal Conductor Klaus Mäkelä to start his reign in 2027. Harding is clearly (and rightly) a favorite of theirs within the meantime.

In the course of the interval, the Swiss Pals of the Concertgebouw Orchestra held a reception within the Lobby; this efficiency ought to have added to their variety of members.

John Rhodes

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