Symphony No.33 in B flat, K319
Concerto in E flat for two pianos, K365
Concerto in C minor, BWV 1062
Guher & Suher Pekinel (pianos)
English Chamber Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis
Reviewed by: Edward Clark
Reviewed: 23 May, 2007
Venue: Cadogan Hall, London
The relationship between Sir Colin Davis and the English Chamber Orchestra goes back decades and it was a pleasure to welcome back both these icons combining their mutual talents in the music of two composers close to their joint hearts, Mozart and Stravinsky. London audiences have not had too many opportunities to hear Sir Colin perform these two favourite composers using smaller orchestral forces than we have been used to at his London Symphony Orchestra concerts.
On this occasion neither composer was represented at the peak of their powers, with a not fully mature symphony by Mozart and a Los Angeles commissioned chamber work by Stravinsky that seems to be a pastiche of every mannerism conjured up by the composer over the previous thirty years.
In between the sweet grace of this Mozart symphony and the rhythmic pungency of the Stravinsky came a pair of concertos for two pianos, played by the twin sisters, Guher and Suher Pekinel. As the programme note put it, “As twins, they are the only duo playing without eye contact, to deepen, further, their breadth of musical momentum”. Being unaware of the full meaning of this statement it is possible to say that their playing of Mozart’s concerto was fully formed, highly competent, but dull. There was not the spark found in two contrasting personalities playing one against the other. Light and shade was almost completely lacking.
The concert’s second half began with Bach’s own arrangement, really for two harpsichords, of his Double Violin Concerto. It was hard to reconcile the hard sound coming from two pianos in the context of music so famously played on two violins but the Pekinel twins made as good a case as possible for this version.
The concerto appearances were being filmed. It was somewhat disconcerting to see one of the world’s most distinguished conductors reduced, for over half the concert, to the role of accompanist. But whatever he does, he achieves a stylish result and his directing of the Mozart and Stravinsky was compensation enough. The ECO produced performances of verve and polish throughout the evening.