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This review for the London Philharmonic Orchestra's performance of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major and Bruckner's 2nd Symphony (56m:19s) at the Royal Festival Hall on the 5th of December 2018 has been developed for screen readers so that people with impaired vision can read it with great ease.
Nowadays one never knows how the various sections of the orchestra will be placed on the stage. On this occasion, during the first piece of the evening, the overture of Weber's Opera, Der Freischütz, double basses were lined up behind the brass. This imposing arrangement left space for the strings to be spread out the whole length of the stage. Concert goers sitting near the side and stage might have enjoyed not being overwhelmed by the sound of eight double basses.
After this excellent and stimulating overture, Alena Baeva, born in Kazakhstan in 1985, made her debut in a lovely yellow dress with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Vladimir Jurovski in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major, and what a debut it was. The Concerto, described as "almost impossible to play” by its dedicatee, the renowned violinist Leopold Auer, was in fact rendered brilliantly, with an outstanding technique and no sense of trepidation. She played with wonderful vigour, bringing to the first and last movements a real sense of excitement, which was beautifully balanced in the slow movement interpreted with great feeling. Vladimir Jurovski, made the right decision in electing to reduce the size of the orchestra to something close as scored by the composer for his Violin Concerto. This allowed the beautiful rich characteristic of Baeva's Guarneri die gesu violin to be appreciated to the full while giving Jurovski room to make the orchestral sounds of this much played work appear fresh, thrilling and balanced.
The London Philharmonic were in great form and having already played impressively on their own, then with the violinist, proceeded to delight the audience with a magnificent performance of Bruckner’s 2nd Symphony under Jurowski’s precise direction.
It was a shame that the Hall wasn't full for this superb concert, but the concert goers who were there showed their appreciation for all three pieces with long applause.
Both Baeva and Jurovski received a bouquet, Jurovski handing individual flowers from his bouquet to three well deserving members of the orchestra, one of which I think was the flautist, Sue Thomas using a very fine Louis Lott flute.
And indeed her flute playing was divine, both as soloist in the Tchaikovsky and later on with the orchestra’s other flautists in the Bruckner.
© Paul Smith