Philharmonia Orchestra/Dohnányi Benjamin Schmid & Rachel Roberts … Romantic Symphony

Sinfonia concertante in E flat for violin, viola and orchestra, K364
Symphony No.4 in E flat (Romantic) [1886 Version edited Leopold Nowak?]

Benjamin Schmid (violin) & Rachel Roberts (viola)

Philharmonia Orchestra
Christoph von Dohnányi

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 30 October, 2008
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Royal Festival Hall

A splendid concert displaying and repaying closely observed preparation.

Christoph von Dohnányi. Photograph: Axel KoesterNeither work has been a stranger to Christoph von Dohnányi when he has been in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra, but both pieces here sounded fresh-minted, the Mozart keenly detailed and accented, the two soloists (Rachel Roberts is Joint Principal Viola of the Philharmonia Orchestra) tonally agreeable, musically interactive and projecting the solo lines with perspicacity and personality. The Philharmonia’s responsive accompaniment completed the circle. The second movement flowed as an Andante should but with due regard to its poignancy and the Presto finale was of bustling festively while remaining expressive.

The Bruckner was a very complete experience. The Edition used was kept under wraps and seemed not to be the implied one by Robert Haas of the 1880 version; rather it was more likely Leopold Nowak’s edition of the 1886 score, hence the four each of trumpets and trombones (which proved somewhat too forceful at times).

Irrespective of this, it was a magnificent performance, wonderfully assured and insightful, rarefied, powerful, suggestive and glowing, Dohnányi and the Philharmonia creating a magical, mysterious and awe-inspiring landscape that was alive to the music’s range, intricacy and dance inflexions, episodes and impulses given full value while remaining part of the whole. It was recorded and might well be issued on Signum.

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