Tans 25-minute piece palls long before its close. Lamb is required to interact with water vessels, making hand-noises akin to bath-night; or hit objects that rest on the waters surface. OK, some of these water-resounding timbres are attractive - for a few seconds; they dont stand repetition. What emerges is a catalogue of Goon-type noises the originals were funnier and the old beat the air with a stick sound failed to interest me once past the six-year-old mark! Add a banal orchestral part that wouldnt survive too much scrutiny as underscoring to a fifties documentary on China the players imitating the wind and horses neighing and we have something that, as the Eurovision Song Contest has it, scores nil points.
Christopher Lamb (principal, New York Philharmonic) gave a brilliant performance, from memory, of his walking-around, making-noise role he deserved the long ovation.
Masurs Bruckner 9 had both grandeur and an expressional uncertainty, which befitted an unfinished masterwork by an old, ill composer whose faith remained unswerving. Masurs shifts of tempo in the first movement effectively marked-out contrasting moods but without losing direction or overall shape. Masur appeared to find a tempo relationship between the third (last) movement and the epic first; Masur successfully revealed the closing bars as potentially leading to more Bruckners unfinished finale.
If the opening of the third (slow) movement was somewhat underpowered, Masurs phrasing of the farewell to life melody was as unaffected as it was moving. In between, Masurs measured but heavily emphasised scherzo was ideally granitic; if only the trio could have been quicker and more mercurial.
Masur found, in the outer movements, a compelling balance between construction and harmonic originality, and the emotional burden the notes carry; rather too much, Masur suggested, for music alone. If the slow movement took a while to burn, Masurs uncompromising climax really emphasised Bruckners use of dissonance and, with it, the composers fateful journey. The LPOs honed playing added power, resolution and sensitivity to Masurs insightful and long-viewed conducting. A trenchant, closely-scrutinised, human Bruckner 9.
- The LPOs next RFH concert is under Ingo Metzmacher on 21 April Adess Asyla, Beethovens Piano Concerto No.2 (Andreas Haefliger) and Strausss Ein Heldenleben
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