Conducting is a recent undertaking for Perlman. Egmont set his stall out big-hearted, expressive and resolute, a fulsome response invited and received; and a marked liking for horns and bassoons, the constant domination of the former in already vivid textures became irksome.
Egmont followed the Romances, played by Perlman with charm and a warm sound similar to that he elicited from the LPOs strings; some of his solos were less than poised with occasional doubts over bowing and intonation.
The strings negotiated Prokofievs taxing parts with absolute security and unanimity. Perlmans brisk first movement, because of a limited palette of colour and dynamics, became relentless. Derailment threatened as the development sped to its rather unfocused climax - just kept on track. Perlmans flowing speed for the Larghetto was ideal, his clipped Gavotte less than ingratiating; the finale, taken at quite a lick, although bustling with energy, lacked inflection.
Brahms 3 is a challenge to any conductor; its elusiveness and subtlety requires something innate and integral. Sifting, grading, shaping and balancing musical paragraphs with inner awareness doesnt yet appear to be within Perlmans gift. At its best in the middle movements - which Perlman tellingly attached as complementary nostalgic reflections flowing with eloquence and feeling - the outer movements lacked expressional variety and instrumental incident.
He also sustained some beautiful, silky-smooth, even voluptuous string playing perhaps rather too much for Brahmss autumnal confidences. As anticipated, bassoons were crystal-clear, but the horns prominence reached over-emphatic absurdity in the last movement. Perlmans intense soundworld is generous in its communication but has yet to focus on interpretative finer points.
- The LPOs next RFH concert is this Wednesday, 2 May, when Libor Pesek conducts Brahmss Violin Concerto, with Hilary Hahn, and Dvoraks New World Symphony
- On Saturday, 5 May, John Eliot Gardiner conducts the LPO in Brittens War Requiem
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- Book Online: www.rfh.org.uk