Nicola Benedetti’s Attractive Korngold at the Proms

11/08/2015

 

bbc proms logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Prom 34. Britten, Korngold and Prokofiev: Nicola Benedetti (violin), Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Kirill Karabits (conductor), Royal Albert Hall, London, 10.8.2015 (AS)

Prom 34_CR_Chris Christodoulou_5

Nicola Benedetti plays Korngold’s Violin Concerto
c BBC&Chris Christodoulou

Britten: Peter Grimes – Four Sea Interludes
Korngold: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 in B flat, Op. 100

 

Britten’s Four Sea Interludes could be perhaps considered as another of the composer’s guides to the orchestra, apart from his Opus 34, which was written a year or so later, since the work provides a good opportunity for all sections to shine. We don’t hear the Bournemouth orchestra in London very much these days, and so it was good to experience its fine playing in this piece, with warm sounding strings, firm brass chording and stylish woodwind. Kirill Karabits directed a searching account of the four episodes that make up this satisfying concert piece. His conducting was in turn potently atmospheric and highly dramatic.

 It scarcely seems 18 years since Gil Shaham played a very fine first-ever Prom performance of the Korngold Violin Concerto, with the Bournemouth Symphony directed by the late and much-lamented Yakov Kreizberg. The orchestra has recently made a much-praised and publicised recording of the work for Decca with Nicola Benedetti and another Russian conductor, Karabits, in fact, and so now we could hear those self-same artists present the work in live performance. It’s a piece that seems to fit Benedetti’s playing personality very well. She brings out the work’s long, highly romantic melodic lines adroitly, but always in a way that never veers towards sentimentality. It’s not a concerto that should be taken too seriously, perhaps, for its film music origins are all too obvious; it’s best to lean back and just enjoy the luscious sounds. In this performance we could hear clearly how Korngold loves to feature the piquant sounds of xylophone and celesta, sometimes in tandem.

 We are used to hearing fairly blunt, straight down the line presentations of Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony, but Karabits’s approach was a little different. At once in the first movement it was evident that he was looking more inwardly into the music, searching for lyrical elements and drawing out contrasts of mood. This was an intriguing interpretative slant, but perhaps it made the movement sound a little more episodic than usual. Nor was the playing quite so assured as it had been in the Britten and Korngold, which was strange, considering how well versed this ensemble is in the music of Prokofiev through its performances and recordings for Onyx Classics, including a recent release of this very symphony (review).

 Artists vary in their response to unwanted applause between movements of a work. Benedetti had turned her back on the audience ever so slightly after the first movement of the Korngold. When applause broke out at the end of the Prokofiev’s first movement, Karabits responded by driving straight into the second amid the clapping. This meant that the first few notes of the vigorously played Allegro marcato were unclear, but his tactic ensured silence after that movement and again after the third. In that third-movement Adagio Karabits continued his expressive, softer than usual approach, to good effect in this case, and also in the final Allegro giocoso, though here the music’s structure seemed a little looser than normal and sharp orchestral attack was a little lacking. But it was an intriguing slant on the great symphony as a whole.

 Alan Sanders

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • NEW! Roman River 2019 Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! Bregenz Festival 17 July – 18 August 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2019 from 30 August to 19 September __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! CHORUS MASTER STEPHEN DOUGHTY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • NEW! MULTI-FACETED MUSICIAN JOY LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! ‘MUSICAL MAGIC’: AN INTERVIEW WITH VIOLINIST HENNING KRAGGERUD __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet Announces Winners of Emerging Dancer 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon on 30 June __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month