LPO with Paul Daniel – 2nd Opinion

Mozart: Violin Concerto in A, K219
Bruckner: Symphony No.6

London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Paul Daniel
Christian Tetzlaff (violin)

Reviewed by: Ken Ward

Reviewed: 9 November, 2000
Venue: Royal Festival Hall, London

This was an impressive performance by the LPO. Paul Daniel took Bruckner 6 very briskly, but the rhythms were very well articulated, consistently maintained, and the orchestral sound well balanced so every strand could be heard. (It’s become received wisdom that the acoustic of the Royal Festival Hall is unforgiving but I’ve grown to love its dryness and clarity and dread the planned ‘improvements’. Agreed 100% – Music Editor.)

The advantage of Daniel’s approach was that Bruckner 6 seemed very cogent, very tight, held together with consummate musical logic – and very impressive for all this. However, what was gained in coherence was lost in expression – such deeply felt moments as when the main theme of the first movement is inverted to become a soaring ecstatic string melody was not given time to sing. Also, the glorious kaleidoscopic unfolding of heavenly landscapes in the same movement’s coda lacked time to fully register the magnificent scenery; the weeping oboe solo of the Adagio was a touch prosaic, and the flowing pace of the movement also undermined the tragic dimension of the funeral march. However, the build-up of the climax, where the horns ring-out the oboe melody, was very dramatic, disturbing and profoundly moving. The scherzo and trio at a cracking pace was fantastic, in every sense of the word, and Daniel’s refusal to linger paid dividends in the finale.

Sometimes cited as a flawed movement, one conductors often have trouble with, but as Confucius said: “The way out is through the door, how is it no one will use this method?” By this measure, Paul Daniel headed straight through the door, without lingering over the view or mulling-over the patterns – and it all made wonderful sense. Had he lingered and dallied elsewhere in the symphony there might have been more opportunity to move one’s senses, but the sum of the parts would probably have been less impressive.

Come the return of the first movement’s main theme, which concludes the Sixth – trombones ringing it out – I felt Daniel had laid out an architectural triumph. The vitality was invigorating

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