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Review: London Symphony Orchestra, Piotr Anderszewski, Nikolaj Znaider

Published on: 5 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 10 Apr, 2013

Nikolaj Znaider – Conducting the London Symphony Orchestra

The coldest April in 20 years, yet the combination of the LSO (London Symphony Orchestra), Mozart and Mahler practically filled the hall. Obviously the people of Surrey (and maybe further afield) know when they’re on to a good thing. And with this concert they were definitely right, it was brilliant!

An hour before the concert, Guildford resident and principal flautist Gareth Davies delivered a friendly and informative address to an audience of 60 or so, outlining some background to Mahler’s personal life and how it affected the composition of his Fifth Symphony.

During 1901-2, Mahler was stressed through job changes, severe illness, and falling in love – all events that impacted on his work in progress. There was also helpful background about the conductor: Nikolaj Znaider is a world-renowned violinist as well, and barely a week ago was performing the Brahms Violin Concerto at the Barbican with the LSO.

Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.5 proved to be an enjoyable start. A particularly good choice because of its long opening orchestral tutti, and it set the mood of the evening immediately with a beautifully blended sound from the first violin section.

P. Anderszewski

Piotr Anderszewski

I particularly enjoyed soloist Piotr Anderszewski’s expansive phrasing in the slow movement, although in the outer movements, some of the runs and delicate fingerwork sounded a trifle smudged. But that’s live music and it added to the presence of the overall experience. The orchestra supported well with perfect intonation and ensemble throughout; wind pianissimos were beautifully judged.

The last two G Live International Series concerts have both involved piano, and each time the instrument did not seem to project. It makes me wonder if it’s been properly voiced for G Live, or whether it could do with a bit of tweaking. Any pianists out there might like to comment below.

The London Symphony Orchestra

The London Symphony Orchestra

Although both the Mozart and the Mahler are standard LSO repertoire, they had had nine hours of rehearsal on this programme – and how it showed. The LSO’s performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony was exemplary, Znaider deftly navigating with no score. Balance was beautifully controlled, showing incredible detail in those interjections – one minute a wind solo, next a pizzicato violin, next a timp strike – melodies passing effortlessly from section to section, instrument to instrument, with no blemish in the line.

Now for the brass.  Gareth said it would be loud, but it was always proportionate and in perfect keeping with the overall level. Yes, it was blaring at times, but simply outstanding. Trumpeter Philip Cobb certainly lives up to expectations – boy, can he play!  The spirit of Maurice Murphy lingers on in the Principal trumpet chair.  Equally effective, Principal horn Timothy Jones shone with a suitably heavier sound, and the horn section were superb in support.

For such an epic piece, virtually every musician needs to be of soloist quality; this was clearly the case here – all the solos came shining through.  Taking the overall view, I came away refreshed to see such committed team players – I felt that everyone, right to the back of the string sections, and indeed every section, triangle included, really cared about the team performance.

What do you think?  If you attended this concert, what was your opinion?  Did you spot the ten players from the Guildford Philharmonic on the LSO platform?  Do you think the ticket prices represent good value for money?

Do have your say – use the ‘Leave a Reply’ feature below.

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Responses to Review: London Symphony Orchestra, Piotr Anderszewski, Nikolaj Znaider

  1. Pete Brayne Reply

    April 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    I was delighted to be in the audience for the LSO’s second appearance at Glive. The first being quite unforgettable, not just because of superb music but also because the lights all went out in the middle of the piano concerto; the orchestra and pianist valiantly continuing and some musicians showing ‘boy scout’ preparedness whipping out battery operated lights. But the brilliance of the music happily eclipsed the venues teething problems.

    Last Wednesday’s performance of Mahler’s 5th was truly impressive. The brass was powerfully brilliant; woodwind specific and colourful; the percussion disciplined; the strings masterful; and the conductor clearly in charge of a symphony he obviously loved.

    The other great surprise was around 200 empty seats! Did Guildford not know of this internationally acclaimed orchestra performing one of the truly majestic symphonies right on our doorstep?

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