wed 30/09/2020

Fischer, LPO, Jurowski, Royal Albert Hall | reviews, news & interviews

Fischer, LPO, Jurowski, Royal Albert Hall

Fischer, LPO, Jurowski, Royal Albert Hall

Demons and reveries in another well-planned, fierily executed Prom

Julia Fischer: poised and Olympian in ShostakovichSol Gabetta
How did they do it? This was another Prom which looked almost too much on paper but worked hair-raisingly well in practice. It was a Vladimir Jurowski special: whizzing, clamorous demons versus introspective reveries, church bells bringing one witches' sabbath to an end, alarm bells kicking off another. And from the first rapid crescendo of the Musorgsky-Rimsky Korsakov Night on a Bare Mountain to the truly great Julia Fischer's much slower build of a cadenza in Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto and on to the final wind-up of Prokofiev's hellish Third Symphony, the performers held nearly everyone in yet another full house spellbound.

How did they do it? This was another Prom which looked almost too much on paper but worked hair-raisingly well in practice. It was a Vladimir Jurowski special: whizzing, clamorous demons versus introspective reveries, church bells bringing one witches' sabbath to an end, alarm bells kicking off another. And from the first rapid crescendo of the Musorgsky-Rimsky Korsakov Night on a Bare Mountain to the truly great Julia Fischer's much slower build of a cadenza in Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto and on to the final wind-up of Prokofiev's hellish Third Symphony, the performers held nearly everyone in yet another full house spellbound.

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I was there last night and I thought that the Shostakovich was simply incredible. I say this as rather a huge Julia Fischer fan, but I felt last night, more than any previous occasion on which I've seen her in concert, that we were in the presence of a violinist who has to be considered alongside the greatest in history - surely? I'll probably be accused of overstating the case, but I don't know another violinist playing today who is so technically secure but so intense interpretatively. Maybe Kavakos. An interesting point, though, is that I've now heard her play the Ysaye three times as an encore in the past year, and she's never sounded happy playing it. She very nearly fell of the finger board in the first furious descending passage last night and it wasn't as good as I'd imagine she could play it. My partner, who's a professional violinist, said she thought she sounded a bit bored of it. I'll be interested to hear how she plays the 1st sonata in today's lunch time prom. I also wanted to comment on Kraggerud's performance of the Tchaikovsky the other night - I've read nothing but high praise for his performance. I heard it on the radio and it seemed quite different to me – and to another violin-playing friend who heard it. It sounded really rough on the radio, with Kraggerud fudging technical passages (I wonder if these were swallowed by the orchestral part in the hall) and generally being quite out of tune. I agree, though, that it was from a musical point of view an enjoyable performance - I was just surprised that no one commented on what seemed to me to be quite big technical problems. I concede, however, that performances can sound quite different in the hall to on the radio - I've often been surprised listening after how different it can sound, to the extent that you wonder if you've been to the same performance!

No, I don't think you're overstating the case for Julia Fischer, Andrew, and I saw that I myself had used 'great' and greatest' but then decided to leave in both. From his deferential demeanour, I sensed that Jurowski felt the same. You may be right about the Ysaye, but I was just glad she chose a piece that reflected the Dies Iraeish quality of the programme - I'd wanted something different from Kavakos and Kraggerud. And half the time the oafs in the box behind me were smothering it in loud chat. As for Kraggerud in Tchaikovsky, it is true that he could probably have gone for greater accuracy if the interpretation hadn't been so headlong, but I wouldn't call the technical passages exactly fudged. As I wrote, it would have seemed too fast if he hadn't eased up in expressive moments. And I could see the point of the interpretation, so I bought it. Especially after Kavakos playing That Korngold Concerto, which IMHO is a bit of a waste of time. The Tchaikovsky, never.

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