Les Offrandes oubliées – méditation symphonique
Piano Concerto No.1 in B flat minor, Op.23
Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
Simon Trpčeski (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Reviewed by: Alex Verney-Elliott
Reviewed: 6 March, 2009
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Royal Festival Hall
The London Philharmonic’s programme opened with an exquisitely played performance of Messiaen’s Les Offrandes oubliées (The Forgotten Offerings). The flamboyant French conductor Louis Langrée, replacing Yan Pascal Tortelier and retaining the advertised works, enticed immaculate playing from arguably London’s finest orchestra. The string tone in particular had an eerie sheen to it, giving the music a cutting edge as if piercing the soul.
Unfortunately, the Tchaikovsky was very disappointing. Simon Trpčeski seemed nervous and was on auto-pilot, playing in a mechanical and clinical manner whilst throwing his arms about with empty rhetorical gestures. In the first movement he produced a hard and ugly tone and was mannered in phrasing. Throughout there seemed little rapport between the performers, the cello solos in the second movement being out of tune, and the finale loudly bashed out, rushed through and congested.
Things improved significantly with a wonderfully alluring performance of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, the first movement being buoyant, measured and incisive whilst the second-movement waltz had real swagger and lilting grace. The pastoral slow movement brought a star cor anglais solo from Sue Bohling. The last two movements – ‘March to the Scaffold’ and ‘Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath’ – generated great excitement and atmosphere with brass- and percussion-playing of bravura. In the ultimate bars the bass drum was breathtaking in its shuddering impact. This was an exhilarating performance.