Guillaume Tell – Overture
Piano Concerto No.23 in A, K488
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73
Ingrid Fliter (piano)
Reviewed by: Richard Landau
Reviewed: 3 April, 2011
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Royal Festival Hall
Bulgarian conductor Danail Rachev, Music Director of Oregon’s Eugene Symphony since 2009 and Assistant Conductor at the Philadelphia Orchestra, replaced an indisposed Juraj Valčuha.
The galloping closing section (of Lone Ranger fame) of the Overture to Rossini’s “Guillaume Tell” cannot fail to bring the house down, but it was the subtlety of the opening – with exquisite phrasing from cellist Timothy Walden and four colleagues – that commanded attention. And, following the Storm passage, Jill Crowther’s cor anglais solos offered an eloquent rendition of the cowherd’s call. The Philharmonia Orchestra’s playing was exemplary throughout – with some thrilling work from the brass and from Keith Bragg on piccolo – and only a shade more refinement in building the final crescendo would have made for perfection.
In the opening movement of the Mozart piano concerto, Ingrid Fliter’s playing was highly poised, fluent, and resolute, but a greater sense of rhetoric would have been welcome, not least in the cadenza. In the Adagio, her emotional commitment was fully on display and benefitting from attentive support from Rachev and the Philharmonia. In the finale, unbuttoned contributions from all concerned ensured that the concerto moved very satisfyingly towards its invigorating conclusion.
In Brahms’s Second Symphony the essentially lyrical first movement came off particularly well – warmth and energy in ample supply – and, as in the Rossini, there were notable contributions from trombones. The emotional depths of the heartfelt Adagio were well caught by Rachev, who also found just the right combination of charm and sparkle in the Allegretto grazioso third movement and then a thrilling degree of energy in the propulsive finale. The only element lacking was the fullest realisation of the symphony’s inner tensions, which, when achieved, can lift the work onto a more elevated plane.