Mostly Mozart – Chloë Hanslip Plays Beethoven

Violin Concerto in D, Op.61
Symphony No.40 in G minor, K550

Chloë Hanslip (violin)

Academy of St Martin in the Fields
Jakub Hrůša

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 28 July, 2007
Venue: Barbican Hall, London

This was a lopsided pairing of works and another example of a concert eschewing an ‘overture’. That the 19-year-old Chloë Hanslip was tackling an Everest of the violin repertoire at this stage of her career suggested that she should make a ‘part 2’ appearance; instead she was obliged to start the concert ‘cold’ and Mozart 40 was rather dwarfed. The latter is a concise work; its troubled air best emphasised through the conductor being minimal with repeats (the one in the first movement and those in the Minuet being sufficient). Jakub Hrůša observed exposition repeats in the slow movement and finale, too, but at least ignored the second-half ones. With a small orchestra, if including the clarinets Mozart later added, Hrůša caught well the tragic undercurrents of the first movement, taken fast but with expression not overlooked and the Andante flowed but also breathed. The Minuet had its grim demeanour well caught while remaining ‘of the dance’ and the Trio offered consolation. The finale though lacked that last degree of tension and ‘shock’ as it careered forward in a rather generalised way.

It was though livelier than parts of the Beethoven had been. Hrůša set a plodding tempo for the orchestral introduction that was dispiriting and felt tentative, and the musicians’ execution suggested lethargy. This certainly wasn’t a ‘historically aware’ performance – and maybe the better for it – but there does at least need to be a pulse apparent Beethoven’s first movement! Chloë Hanslip’s view of the first movement was Romantic and somewhat ‘received’ in interpretation but with not enough ‘experience’ to sustain such a time-taken approach or the reveries of introspection that were lulled into. Her feistier outbursts, a little unkempt technically, had a waspish flourish that enlivened proceeding and showed both her confidence and a willingness to stand up and be counted in this most demanding of works. She attacked the non-attributed cadenza (it was most likely the one by Kreisler) with gusto.

The other two movements were notably more successful. The Larghetto was sublimely shaped by the orchestra, Hanslip maintaining the mood of rapt tranquillity (enhanced by Robert Plane’s clarinet and Gavin McNaughton’s bassoon), and which would have been even more effective but for the indulgences of the first movement. Best of all was the finale, the moderate tempo perfect for musical articulation and bouncy bravado, wit and fancy to the fore from all the performers. It will be interesting to see how Chloë Hanslip tackles this concerto in forthcoming years.

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