Rhythmic Vitality in Kopatchinskaja’s Bartók Performance

19/08/2014

 Edinburgh International Festival 2014 (15) – Linberg, Bartók, Beethoven:  Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin), London Philharmonic Orchestra /Vladimir Jurowski (conductor), Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 18.8.2014 (SRT)

Lindberg:  Chorale
Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 2
Beethoven:   Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

 

The last time the London Philharmonic and Vladimir Jurowski were due to play at the Edinburgh Festival, the concert had to be embarrassingly cancelled due to a power cut at the Usher Hall.  No such misfortune tonight, though, and Jurowski generated plenty of electricity of his own during a performance of the Eroica that crackled from beginning to end.  He adopted daringly fast tempi for the first two movements so that the vivace of the Scherzo scarcely registered, but that didn’t stop him broadening out when he needed to, such as in the tentative second subject group of the first movement, or the C major episode of the funeral march.

It was capped by a blooming, ebullient finale that was beautifully shaped, as was Lindberg’s Chorale, the Bachian hymn tune resurfacing repeatedly in a way that I found genuinely impressive, as was the evolution of the string tone from the wiry foundations of the opening through to the flowering positivity of the ending.  Jurowski is a great conductor to watch.  He shapes paragraphs and builds climaxes in a way that makes it pretty obvious what he is doing (something that is surprisingly rare in the conducting business), and both the crowd and the orchestra seemed to love him for it.

I’ll admit, though, that the major draw for me tonight was Patricia Kopatchinskaja playing Bartók’s second concerto, and I wasn’t disappointed.  She’s an incredible force of nature, both to listen to and to watch. She took to the first theme, for example, as if she were striding into the centre of an arena to do battle with it, but without ever sounding vulgar or ostentatious for its own sake. It’s her musicality that sets her out as special, rather than any physical effects, and she has the ability to make the violin sing in a way that is peculiar to her, such as in the outer reaches of the slow movement which were so subtly drawn that sometimes the violin seemed to quiver on the brink of inaudibility.

I wonder, though, whether there’s something about her Eastern European origins and style of playing that makes her peculiarly well suited to Bartók’s music? I can’t imagine many London-trained musicians, for example, throwing themselves into the twisting second theme of the first movement with the same degree of vigour and attack that she does.  Frequently, and especially in the finale, she even seemed to be physically under the music’s control, even when she wasn’t playing: bobbing, twisting, mouthing along to the rhythm, and she even seemed as though she was trying to direct the orchestra at times. The sheer physicality of her playing meant that at times she looked as though she were about to go into orbit, with only her fixed concentration on her playing keeping her (bare!) feet on the ground. Jurowski and the orchestra matched her with visceral, exciting playing that brought out all the rhythmic vitality of the work and wasn’t afraid to revel Bartok’s often strange colours.

The Edinburgh International Festival runs until Sunday 31st August in venues across the city.  For full details click here.

 

Simon Thompson

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera’s 2019 Performances of Stephen Storace’s Gli sposi malcontenti __________________________________
  • NEW! Nevill Holt Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 Aldeburgh Festival at the Snape Maltings in June __________________________________
  • NEW! Garsington Opera’s 2019 30th Anniversary Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Clara Schumann Festival at St John’s Smith Square – 22 to 24 February 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Venus Unwrapped: Kings Place’s Year-Long Focus on Women Composers __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Buenos Aires in 2019 – Largely Traditional __________________________________
  • NEW! Looking Ahead to the 2019 Lucerne Festivals __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Exciting 2018/19 Cinema Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 and Beyond __________________________________
  • NEW! Salzburg Whitsun Festival 7 – 10 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bolshoi Ballet 2018/19 UK Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018-2019 Geneva Grand Theâtre Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Hallé Season in Manchester __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! VENEZUELAN MUSICIAN GABRIELA MONTERO IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Arthur Butterworth and David Jennings Premieres in Lancaster on 1 March __________________________________
  • NEW! Ivan Putrov’s Against the Stream Ballet Gala Night on 7 April __________________________________
  • NEW! London To Hear Long-Overdue Revival of Parry’s Oratorio Judith in April __________________________________
  • NEW! Russian Ballet Icons Gala 31 March 2019 at the London Coliseum __________________________________
  • NEW! PIANIST MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! Ik zeg: NU: I say now, now … an interview with Richard Causton __________________________________
  • NEW AND UPDATED! SOME OF SEEN AND HEARD’S REVIEWERS LOOK BACK AT 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NEW! SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • NEW! MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • NEW! TENOR NICHOLAS PHAN IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER SALLON __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month