fri 01/03/2024

Jansen, LSO, Noseda, Barbican review - hearts of darkness | reviews, news & interviews

Jansen, LSO, Noseda, Barbican review - hearts of darkness

Jansen, LSO, Noseda, Barbican review - hearts of darkness

Pain offset by sheer beauty in communicative Beethoven, Sibelius and Prokofiev

Electricity: Janine Jansen, Gianandrea Noseda and the LSO in Sibelius's Violin ConcertoAll images by Mark Allen

There’s life in the old overture-concerto-symphony format yet – especially if the conductor not only shapes every phrase but takes care over the number of string players needed for each work, the soloist lives every bar of a concerto you thought you knew inside out, and the symphony is a relatively rare neighbour to another regularly on concert programmes.

It would be foolhardy to claim that Prokofiev’s Sixth, his symphony of suffering, is better than the ever-fascinating Fifth, no straightforward warhorse, but it’s certainly more consistently dark and deep. The London Symphony Orchestra has crossed its minefield relatively recently, under the hit-and-miss Gergiev, but his one-time colleague at the Mariinsky, Gianandrea Noseda, is a far more nuanced interpreter and the orchestra is now on best form thanks to the tonic of the Rattle era.

Noseda’s developing relationship with the Wagner operas seems to inform the long lines of the unique central Largo, which despite its breadth feels hypertense and harps on the sick composer’s “wound that cannot be healed” with reference to Amfortas’s pain in Parsifal. I doubt if there’s ever been a more fiercely bright trumpet to line the first violin melody than James Fountain’s, impressively flecked with the right amount of vibrato. And the dream visions of horns, harps, piano and celesta, though short lived, offered well-intoned healing balm. Gianandrea NosedaI’ve heard the pain in the maimed first movement more inscaped in some performances, and surely once the first interpreter, Yevgeny Mravinsky, decided to take the final horrific hammering much slower than the a tempo marking in the score, that should be the way to achieve maximum shock at the end; Noseda’s brisk conclusion missed a trick there.

Never take anything for granted with Noseda: his familiar style is a febrile swiftness, but not in this concert. Surely the big-boned, mega-romantic approach to Sibelius’s Violin Concerto was worked out in an ideal relationship with the phenomenal Janine Jansen. Both knew it would work given the communicative intensity with which Jansen delivered every phrase, starting with the rare frisson you get from a soloist who joins the shimmer in a parallel universe before coming to the fore, and the care for orchestral colour. Janine JansenSibelius’s palette is so dark and original, but there was more here than I’d ever noticed before, like the cello solo from David Cohen rising up to join the violinist in the finale, and the horns were absolutely equal with their riveting soloist in the Adagio di molto. Second oboist Rosie Jenkins, when not playing, looked hooked onJansen’s high style, and it was surely a gift to the whole orchestra to be able to listen to her Bach encore (pictured above), the Largo from the Third Violin Sonata, so songful and personal that at first it sounded unlike the composer in his demanding works for solo violin. No question, Jansen is one of the top three violinists in the world today (the other two may change according to which performance you catch, but her place is assured).

To end at the beginning, Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture served as a magnificent opening gambit from Noseda, using combinations of six and five players in each of the string sections to streamline the heart of darkness. The LSO’s current concerts with him are as fine as anything you’ll find on the London concert scene.

Surely Noseda's big-boned, mega-romantic approach to Sibelius’s Violin Concerto was worked out in an ideal relationship with the phenomenal Janine Jansen

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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