Otello – Ballabili
Cello Concerto in B minor, Op.104
Aus Italien, Op.16
Enrico Dindo (cello)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Reviewed by: Richard Landau
Reviewed: 14 April, 2010
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Royal Festival Hall
With its brilliant opening and catchy rhythms, the ballet music that Verdi wrote especially for the 1894 Paris premiere of “Otello” made an arresting start to the concert. In this, Gianandrea Noseda’s debut with the London Philharmonic, it was clear that the orchestra was on tip-top form. Noseda shaped the infectious ‘ethnic’ melodies alternately with grace and gusto, with notably dazzling contributions coming from brass and winds. The strings were equally distinguished, especially in the lilting Greek song and the vigorous Murano dance, and the coda was thrillingly played.
In Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, Noseda emphasized the dark hues of the orchestral introduction, with deep-toned cellos and double basses prominent. There was also a fine contribution from the first horn, John Ryan. With the deeply expressive, rather than grandiose, entry of Enrico Dindo it was clear that we were in the presence of a cellist of quality. Although there were moments of technical insecurity in the more demanding passages, these were minor. Dindo was at his most impressive in the more intimate sections such as the first movement’s rhapsodic passage for with flute accompaniment, the latter beautifully played by Jaime Martin. Noseda took the Adagio at a pace that flowed without fuss and majestically, and here the soloist’s lyrical strengths were displayed to the full. Noseda provided a purposeful martial opening to the finale, whose dancing and thrusting elements were adroitly negotiated by Dindo, but once again it was in the more intimate writing that his playing provided the greatest satisfaction.
Opportunities to hear Strauss’s early tone poem Aus Italien are few and far between, so it was a pleasure to hear it performed so gloriously under a conductor who knows just how to shape the music and colour its textures. The luminosity of the first movement, ‘In the Campagna’, was vividly realised. Noseda made the most of the ensuing depiction of the ruins of Rome (arguably less convincing music), and in the third and finest movement, ‘On the Beach at Sorrento’, he obtained lustrous playing. The delicacy of the interplay between the wind and strings, and the intensity of the hushed writing near the close – oboes, flutes and clarinets hanging in the air – was quite special. There was much virtuosity in the finale, ‘Life of the People of Naples’, the “Funiculì, funiculà” tune (which Strauss believed to be an Italian folksong but ran into copyright troubles with its composer Luigi Denza) repeatedly raising its head amidst the wild tarantella that takes Aus Italien to a rousing conclusion. This happy collaboration between the London Philharmonic and Gianandrea Noseda bodes well for the future.