Concerto for Orchestra
Symphony No.4 in E minor, Op.98
Guildhall Symphony Orchestra
Reviewed by: Alan Sanders
Reviewed: 20 March, 2014
Venue: Barbican Hall, London
Spaniard Martín (formerly principal flute of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and now building a conducting career) brought out the work’s poetic qualities more than is usually the case, and though he didn’t restrict its exuberant, outgoing nature it was good to hear an account that plumbed expressive depths, and avoided brash showpiece presentation. Martín did however set a fast tempo for the finale, and his young players responded brilliantly.
After the interval a rather different Guildhall Symphony Orchestra emerged. Most of the wind-players were new, many of the first violins had exchanged places with the seconds, and there were other swaps and replacements. This was not altogether to the good, for in the Brahms there were a number of rocky moments in the horn section, and overall there was a slight raw aspect. This didn’t mar a most satisfying reading, however. Martín led a beautifully rich, lyrical account of the first movement, his gestures encouraging convivial expression. He moved the Andante moderato second-movement along at a reliable basic tempo, while again giving room for responsive phrasing. The scherzo was slightly faster than usual, but not so much as to lose its bluff good humour and the varying moods of the finale’s passacaglia/variations were vividly painted. All in all, this was an impressive and moving performance.