Mother Goose Suite
Piano Concerto in G
Symphony No.7 in A
Claire-Marie Le Guay (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Reviewed by: Edward Clark
Reviewed: 3 May, 2006
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
Louis Langrée made a welcome return to London’s concert life with his eloquent view of Ravel and life-affirming stance on Beethoven.
The soft, gentle opening of Mother Goose was beautifully poised and, throughout the work, Langrée obtained refined and exquisite playing that was a pleasure to hear. He entered the magical world of Ravel’s imagination so that the audience could experience the almost child-like sensations of touch and feel that inhabit this wondrous orchestral tapestry. The epilogue was genuinely touching in its refinement and poise.
Many years separate this imaginatively coloured work from the fresher, more direct happenings in the Piano Concerto in G, so bracing yet so tender in parts. Indeed the quiet episode for harp solo in the first movement stole the thunder from Claire-Marie Le Guay, whose view of this kaleidoscopic work was strangely subdued and understated throughout. The notes were played efficiently but the spirit of this effervescent piece was almost totally absent despite virtuoso support from the orchestra. There was some panache but the necessary passionate involvement in bringing this score to life eluded her.
So it was a joy to encounter a strong and powerful Beethoven Seven after the interval. After recent travails in the sports and political arenas, which can debilitate the spirits, the positive energy flowing from Beethoven is remarkably good for morale. It is no wonder Weber described Beethoven as “ripe for the madhouse” after he heard this work. Hearing Langrée take a firm grip on this wonderfully elemental work washed away all the cares of contemporary life for a brief moment. This was a thrilling response to those who say Beethoven can only be played, now, on period instruments. The depth of expression and tonal balance obtained by the LPO was a marvel as was its unanimous spirit in bringing the music’s rhythmic attributes to the fore. Langrée observed all repeats, and there was a deserved ovation at the end.