Monday 20 February 2012
Rachmaninov Reborn: LPO Pull-Out All The Stops @ Brighton Dome
The hands and fingers of pianist Boris Giltburg (London Philharmonic Orchestra) are not his own. They are the playthings of some master puppeteer, some Faustian genius who takes control of this apparently humble and quiet man (he is sheepish and generous in applause) and turns him into the master pianist that he is (at Brighton Dome).
Giltburg swings his great wide bowler's arms like a Berserker aiming to strike, and yet his fingers strike the piano keys with the precision of a mason carving fine letters into stone. He is part demon and part craftsmen, but he is still all artist.
For me it is like the very ghost of Rachmaninov has returned to the stage, as the Russian, Giltburg, plays his part in this awesome rendition of Sergei Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2 in C Minor.
The title ‘Piano Concerto No.2’ does not really do it for me; I mean how about “whirlwind of emotional distortion storm of manic beauty flowering in the wild mountains of the modernist cusp amid manic depression of the composers soul-being?” A little wordy, I know, but it would do as a working title, anyway.
Born out of an awful premiere of his first symphony, and after three barren and tortured years creating next to nothing, this wonderful concerto was born.
The act of its creation opened the doors for his great talent and new works began to flood out.
This great work was then followed by the Liebesleid, by Austrian Violinist Fritz Kreisler.
Kreisler was often in the habit of pretending that he did not write his work, publishing it under pseudonyms or pretending he had discovered some old tune for the past.
Cheeky Kreisler’s short five-minute work is included here because Rachmaninov often played it.
Following the interval the orchestra (still led by the brilliant Neeme Jarvi who seems to have conducted every orchestra on the planet) played Rachmaninov’s Symphony No 2 in E minor.
Again we have a title whose almost accountant-like technical formality utterly fails to convey its turbulent and beautiful swirling brilliance.
Despite the success of the Piano Concerto, Rachmaninov still needed to produce a great symphony and so he did.
The key of E-minor is one pregnant with darker thoughts and unease, but this symphony, described in the programme as a ‘Heady but combative music’ (well, to say the least actually) he does achieve just that level.
At an hour long it might have been a chore for some, but such was the power of music time seemed to melt away.
The LPO usually deliver the goods but this time they have surpassed even themselves.
How lucky we are in this city to have such a great concert hall that attracts orchestras like the LPO and the BSO to want to come and play here?
No trains to catch from London, no overpriced train fares to worry about, no broken rails, no bus replacement service, no car parking worries, just a walk or a bus and hey presto there we go.
We always have a small tapas and a glass of wine at La Bodegas opposite(ish) the Dome on our way home, just ‘cos we can.
by: Howard Young (Arts Editor)
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