On Saturday 27 April at Royal Festival Hall, the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski performed Webern’s Variations Op. 30, Berg’s Suite from the opera Lulu with soprano Barbara Hannigan, Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste, and Martinů’s Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano and Timpani.
Here are the reviews of the concert:
‘Intellectually and emotionally speaking this was a classic of its kind … the accomplishment of its execution was as exemplary as it was gripping … What an extraordinary concert.’
Edward Seckerson, The Arts Desk
‘[Martinů’s Double Concerto] showcased the versatile excellence of pianist Catherine Edwards, who deservedly got the biggest cheer of the evening. In London this charismatic musician is usually confined to the relatively Cinderella role of ‘orchestral pianist’. It’s time we heard Edwards for real, as a proper concerto soloist.’ (5 stars)
Michael Church, The Independent
‘The LPO was in powerfully unanimous and wonderfully articulate form … This [the Martinů] was a sensationally good performance of terror-charged music, bristling with incident, driven without inhibition, the first movement’s angular rhythms spat out with fury (Simon Carrington the judicious timpanist) and the impassioned slow movement (a cry of pain from all of the composer’s pores) only reposed by Catherine Edwards’s piano solos, and even they muse soulfully.
This was not only a must-be-there concert, but a challenging one for the LPO, music that demands unstinting and detailed preparation. The Bartók may have slightly drawn the short straw in this respect, but the evening was a triumph.’
Colin Anderson, Classical Source
‘There was much to admire: this was highly dramatic Webern … Pieter Schoeman’s violin solos were especially well judged, sweetly Romantic, even hyper-Romantic, just as Webern’s music demands.
There was just the right degree of lilt to [Hannigan’s Lulu] performance, as there was to that of the LPO. High notes hit the spot in every sense, and coloratura told dramatically as well as musically. One longed to see her in the entire role. Jurowski balanced his forces and shaped the musical argument well.’
Mark Berry, Boulezian (blog)
‘That the LPO could tackle such a testing programme on a couple of days’ rehearsal speaks volumes for the players’ concentration. There were rough edges in Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste, but also an edge-of-seat excitement. And Martinu’s Double Concerto for String Orchestras, Piano and Timpani sounded by turns scary, eerie, whiplash-driven and doggedly resolute: a compelling document of what it was like to be alive and terrified in 1938.’ (4 stars)
Richard Morrison, The Times (subscriber access only)
‘Some of the concerts at The Rest is Noise contain well-loved and often-played pieces, but it is concerts like this one where the festival’s importance really lies. These four outstanding pieces of music are not heard as often as they should be (perhaps with the expection of the Bartók), but if all the performances are as impressive as the LPO’s, I would not be surprised to see this change.’
Renée Reitsma, Bachtrack.com
This concert was part of The Rest Is Noise festival of 20th-century music, which continues at Southbank Centre throughout 2013. The next LPO concert is this Wednesday, 1 May, when Ryan Wigglesworth conducts Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No. 4 and Tippett’s A Child of Our Time with the London Philharmonic Choir. Find out more.