Piano Concerto No.17 in G, K453
The Rite of Spring
Richard Goode (piano)
BBC Singers (womens voices)
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Yan Pascal Tortelier
Royal Albert Hall, London
Thursday, September 05, 2002
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Richard Goode is a pianist capable of moulding together extremes humour and high seriousness, attention to detail and an unbroken melodic line, intellect and emotion; a very classical modernity, in fact. And without ever appearing to force his personality onto Mozarts G major concerto, Goode made the work emerge as many-faceted, full of emotional depth and variety, and undeservedly neglected compared to the later concertos an utter masterpiece. Goodes is a sleight of hand of which only the greatest pianists are capable, giving music the strongest possible characterisation without apparently doing any more than playing the notes.
The initial delicacy of the orchestral textures, and the conscious communication between orchestra and soloist, set the tone for the whole. While preserving an eighteenth-century dignity and poise, Goodes contrastsbetween relaxation and intensification gave the work a constant sense of improvised yet logical evolution.
The coolness of the slow movement made it the least successful of the three, although Goodes intuitive understanding of the long paragraphs was exemplary. The Finale was the undoubted highlight of the whole evening.Both Goode and orchestra injected wit and high spirits into the variations, their dialogue giving a sense of drama and life that was pure opera.
The acoustic of the RAH was the enemy of the performance. A rendition this intimate, with such attention to the works chamber-music affinities, and Goodes concern for a true pianissimo, must have been all but lost in the higher reaches of the hall.
Ironically, Debussys Nocturnes benefited greatly from the space and grandeur of the RAH. The trumpets of Fêtes and the womens voices in Sirènes, artfully placed in the Gods, literally added another dimension of atmosphere. Torteliers conducting was always sympathetic and lucid. One might have asked for darker Nuages (clouds), but the spring and energy of Fêtes, as Apollonian as Boléro is Dionysiac, and the enchantment of Sirènes were delightful.
In The Rite of Spring, Torteliers final choice as the BBC Phis stepping-down Chief Conductor, he was again alert to the idiom and emotional purpose of the music, perfectly combining the sweetness of the folk melodies and the rhythmic energy of the dance. Again, it was in passages of reflection or mystery that one hoped for a more profound evocation of the sublime. The occasional fluff and moments of astringent tone aside, although one might have asked for a greater weight of sound, the players were musically impressive throughout.
- BBC Radio 3 re-broadcast Thursday, 12 September, at 2 oclock