La forza del destino Overture
London Concerto [LSO Commission: World premiere]
Symphony No.5 in E minor, Op.64
Rachel Gough (bassoon)
Carmine Lauri (violin)
Bryn Lewis (harp)
London Symphony Orchestra
Reviewed by: Edward Clark
Reviewed: 18 May, 2005
Venue: Barbican Hall, London
What more can an orchestra do? Well, perhaps try not to sugar the pill in the shape of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. It would be rare for a debut conductor to make much impression on musicians who are so familiar with a score like this. It did not help sell tickets – the hall was half-empty (or half-full if you are an optimist). One of Tchaikovsky’s first three symphonies would have been nice, for a change. This was a pretty routine play-through of the famous Fifth, redeemed only by some sparks flying in parts of the finale. Xian Zhang certainly has a stylish technique but there was little evidence of any strong musical personality.
Huw Watkins’s London Concerto features three contrasted solo instruments – bassoon, violin and harp – and his style seems to take note of recent forebears, particularly Tippett. He writes in a lyrical fashion but London Concerto is short of memorable ideas; that said, Watkins fashions the material in a sure manner and the ending of the fourth (of five) movements had poetic eloquence. The soloists, all LSO principals, were no doubt delighted to be offered the limelight in a score that gives plenty of opportunity to shine.
Problems on the Underground prevented me hearing the Verdi overture.