Birmingham May 2013
Review from Bachtrack
The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande is as pleasing watch as to listen to. Under the directorship of the renowned Estonian conductor Neeme Järvi since 2012, the orchestra is clearly flourishing. From start to finish, it was apparent that the orchestra were deeply enjoying their performance and this only improved the performance itself.
Opening with fellow Estonian Arvo Pärt’s Silhouette: Hommage à Gustave Eiffel(2009), the orchestra successfully captured the cool elegance and dancing lightness of the piece. Silhouette is dedicated to Paavo Järvi, Neeme’s son, who so impressed Pärt with his interpretations of his works that he was inspired to compose a new piece for him. Using the blueprints and illustrations of Gustave Eiffel’s iconic structure as a source to gain insight into the “sober rationality” of “Eiffel’s artistic vision” (in Pärt’s own words), Pärt constructedSilhouette similarly, with transparency and stasis being key to its architecture. A talented percussion section did justice to this charming piece, which, although short, has much to offer.
The arresting opening chords of Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor signalled a change in mood, and began even before the applause welcoming soloist Boris Berezovsky to the stage ceased. Immediately captivating, the unassuming Berezovsky looks entirely natural at the piano and delivered an exceptional performance. Sensitive and flexible, Berezovsky flitted between the extravagant dramatism and dreamlike lyricism of the concerto with ease. Supported by an orchestra of responsive musicians, the rapport between soloist and orchestra was evident. A strong horn section and gifted principal flautist overshadowed the single hesitant entry by the orchestra, who, with the understated direction of Järvi, made this a very memorable performance.
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no. 6 in B minor, “Pathétique”, followed the interval. Written mere months before the composer’s suspected suicide, many have read into the Pathétique a sense of ominous hopelessness, viewing the symphony as Tchaikovsky’s last testament. The programme notes describe music “permeated by foreboding” and yet the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande managed to perform this piece in a way that highlights the contrast between the darker, more melancholy moments and bringing into relief the triumphant, dancing third movement. A beautifully executed bassoon solo opened a performance that went from strength to strength.
The evening culminated with a planned encore, which was perhaps an unusual decision. Following the “death” of the Pathétique was a bold move, but choosing Pärt’s Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten was the perfect choice, providing the concert with a rounded conclusion. All in all, a charming concert.
UK May 2013
Review from Words and Music
Ooh Aah Canton
The sepulchral bassoon’s lovelorn complaint at the start of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique wins over the entire orchestra in the first movement as each section varies the motif to so many yearning pleas. A second theme inflates the work like a bouncy castle, plump and inviting, the detail clear in the purity of the clarinet’s whisper. The most elegant five-four rhythm in music swirls the burning strings into a revolving dance and Jaervi confronts the cellos with his arms clasped before him like a master demonstrating the devotion of eager performing dogs. With pounding unanimity they played the triumphant third movement like a finale so that the tragedy of the fourth hit home like the unsuspected return of dark clouds. One felt the composer’s anguish through the medium, 120 years on, of this superlative band, proudly determined no longer to live in the shadow of its illustrious past, but to honour that background by creating its own reputation. Ansermet’s huge repertoire focused on works of his own French culture – Debussy, Ravel and the Parisian Stravinsky. Jaervi does likewise with fellow Estonian Paert, whose profoundly haunting Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten he conducted as a host-flattering encore.