The Bartered Bride – Overture
Double Concerto for two string orchestras, piano and timpani
Symphony No.4 in E minor, Op.98
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Reviewed by: Richard Landau
Reviewed: 12 December, 2009
Venue: Barbican Hall, London
Jansons embarked on the first movement of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony with real affection and a welcome lack of affectation. There was an abundance of great playing from the RCO, strings and woodwinds particularly distinguished. About halfway through the movement there was a drop in tension and, increasingly, the sense of a succession of incidents rather than of a coherent whole. The horns sonorously opened the Andante, and there was much fine playing thereafter. Very successful was the scherzo – truly giocoso. The finale was taken at a broad pace, and while there were a few laboured moments, Jansons guided his band to a notably forceful conclusion.
There were two encores: Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No.1 and the seventh of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances from the Opus 72 set. Both pieces could have done with more charm, a quality that was more seriously absent in the fleet and noisy performance of the Overture to “The Bartered Bride” with which the evening opened.