mon 16/05/2022

Goerner, BBC Philharmonic, Sinaisky, Royal Albert Hall | reviews, news & interviews

Goerner, BBC Philharmonic, Sinaisky, Royal Albert Hall

Goerner, BBC Philharmonic, Sinaisky, Royal Albert Hall

A classy performance of Scriabin's lush Piano Concerto and a pathetic Pathétique

"Well, that's going straight onto my iPod!" declared my friend at the interval. Introduce anyone to Scriabin's lush Piano Concerto in F sharp minor - a real concert rarity - and the response is always the same: love at first sight. The tunes, the tenderness, the surging passion are all there in Rachmaninov-like abundance. And even if these qualities often come at the price of structural elegance, there is no denying the romantic potency of the work. I bet there was a surge of downloading activity last night after Nelson Goerner's classy performance at the Proms.

It all starts introspectively, heads down, the melody almost caught mid-phrase, mumbling. Goerner does this sort of thing very well, hunched over the piano, carefully, clinically, picking up and projecting every last lisping whisper. The second subject then hops and flops into musical view like a skittish rabbit into the road. On which subject Scriabin builds much of the rest of the opening. From here on in, orchestra and piano - shunning the parlour banter of the early Romantic concertos - engage in thickness and thievery, feeding each other, echoing each other, united like ego and id.
Rachmaninov makes an prototypic appearance in the theme and variations slow movement, muted strings beckoning forth a tune of balmy consolation. Sinaisky and the BBC Philharmonic revelled in the pianissimos; Goerner delighted in chasing the piano line into Debussyian flights and Messiaen-like aviaries. There's plenty of Chopin in all this as well, in the filigree material and in the Mazurka-like opening subject of the last movement. Goerner was superbly on top of his intermittently virtuosic brief; cool, conscientious, but not above delivering the odd controlled explosion.
Yet another surprisingly good rarity greeted us before the Scriabin. Leaving aside the singularly bizarre movement headings - "Stress", "Love", "Play", "Now!" - Hubert Parry's Symphonic Fantasia in B minor, subtitled 1912 - completely new to me I must admit - is a right royal charmer of a work. No question: there's a hell of a lot of Brahms in the stormy opening movement and a good dollop of Mahler in the Ländler third movement. But the echoes are distant enough for one to enjoy Parry's ideas as they come. And they come pretty thick and pretty fast. Even Sinaisky - whose bespectacled head was buried in the no doubt rather unfamiliar score - seemed to be getting into it.
So it was the canonic fare, a performance of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique, that ultimately put a downer on the evening. Sinaisky never once got to grips with the piece. There was little rhyme or reason to his fitful activity at the podium, as he chased - rather than led - the orchestra into messy peaks and troughs. There were a few nice individual contributions, particularly from the cool, calm principal clarinet, John Bradbury, but overall this wasn't a pretty showing. Sinaisky must up his game for Sunday's Prom.

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