Le nozze di Figaro – Overture
Violin Concerto in D, Op.77
Symphony No.8 in G, Op.88
Rachel Barton Pine (violin)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Reviewed by: Robert Matthew-Walker
Reviewed: 11 November, 2008
Venue: Cadogan Hall, London
This concert, made up of standard orchestral repertoire, proved to be exceptional in many ways. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra give many concerts under different conductors each year, the programmes usually comprising works familiar to frequent concert-goers. Owing to the nature of music-making in the capital one rarely sits up and takes notice when confronted by such well-known masterpieces as the three which comprised this programme. It therefore came as a welcome revelation to witness this orchestra responding so well, undoubtedly under the baton of a superb musician, who was technically absolutely spot-on and – owing to his vast experience –interpretatively deeply impressive.
Mozart’s overture was no mere run-through; it was brilliantly played. Serebrier’s tempo (just a shade quicker than normal) demanded keen attention from the players, which they gave, thus getting the evening off to an exhilarating start. But the greatest interest centred upon the British concert debut of the American violinist Rachel Barton Pine, whose recent Cedille recording of the Beethoven and Clement Violin Concertos with this orchestra and conductor has been very well received.
The performance of Brahms’s Violin Concerto was one of the finest I have heard live for a long time; it was keenly involving in that soloist, conductor and orchestra were of one mind, Serebrier conducting every beat in the long opening orchestral exposition, thus holding the music together over those big paragraphs as it should be but so rarely is.
Barton Pine’s tone was superb, filling Cadogan Hall with a richness that made all the difference. Although in the second subject of the first movement one might have wished for a more consistent tone, one was constantly impressed by her musicianship and command of the work and the perfectly judged collaboration between her and Serebrier. If one might question her choice of Kreisler’s cadenza, rather than Joachim’s, it was finely integrated.
Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony (of which José Serebrier has made an excellent recording) was given a fine and spacious performance with a great deal of atmosphere. Serebrier’s concentration never faltered and the architecture of the work was also admirably revealed. The Royal Philharmonic here showed that under a fine conductor its playing is the equal of any orchestra.