Lightness and Optimism in Carroll’s Playing of Elgar Cello Concerto

20/10/2015

 Swansea Festival 2015 – Wagner, Elgar, Beethoven: Thomas Carroll (cello), Dresden Philharmonic /  Michael Sanderling (conductor), Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, 17.10.2015. (NR)

Wagner: Overture, Die Meistersinger

Elgar: Cello Concerto

Beethoven: Symphony no. 3, ‘Eroica’

The Swansea Festival closed with the Dresden Philharmonic, under the impressive Michael Sanderling, playing a popular but nonetheless demanding programme: mainstream German repertoire from which the audience expected – and received – performances direct from the blood, as it were, and conversely Elgar, whose music is increasingly frequently played by Continental orchestras and invested as a result with interesting questions about its ‘Englishness’.

In the Meistersinger overture the double basses were particularly strong, and it was intriguing to see the re-arrangement of forces for Beethoven in the second half, with the basses placed on the conductor’s extreme left, the cellos in the middle, in front of the woodwinds, and the second violins where the cellos and basses would normally be. I wasn’t quite sure how this affected the sound in the Eroica, but the weight, tightness and precision were never in doubt. Everything in this extraordinary work seemed fresh: I found myself wondering how its first audiences would have reacted to music of a kind they would never previously have experienced, from the repeated-note motifs used so variously, through the frighteningly abrupt rhythmic plunges in the scherzo, to the way the apparently broken fragments at the opening of the finale miraculously glue themselves together. We’re still just catching up with it, really. A bit too quickly after the close of this the orchestra played the last section of the William Tell overture as an encore – brilliantly done, but I could have done without it, with the last chords of the Eroica still somewhere in my head.

At the concert’s centre was local returnee Thomas Carroll’s rendition of Elgar’s Cello Concerto – perceptive, beautiful, and subtly accompanied. In the famous slow movement he discovered a lightness, even a kind of optimism that more lugubrious performances gloss over – and as a result the reprise-effects in the finale had more grandeur and pathos than one sometimes finds. It was good to hear the work shorn of that English autumn effect, if I could put it like that, that can often be rather routinely washed on to the music – I wonder if an orchestra of this calibre could ever be enticed to play Moeran, or Bax, or Finzi?

Neil Reeve

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Sundays for a Fiver Festival in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre Reopens in December 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Exciting 2018/19 Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! See Pop-Up Opera’s La Tragédie de Carmen this Autumn __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Chamber Music Festival October 2018 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 and Beyond __________________________________
  • NEW! Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
 in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Sunday International Concerts Series in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • 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 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 CBSO at Symphony Hall, Birmingham __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 BBC NOW in Cardiff and Swansea __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! The Future of Opera is Theatre: An Essay by Casey Creel __________________________________
  • NEW! Jacqui and David Morris’s New Documentary Film Nureyev Celebrates a Unique Man and Dancer __________________________________
  • NEW! MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! JACK BUCKLEY’S MEMORIES OF LINDSAY KEMP (1938-2018) __________________________________
  • NEW! THE GESUALDO SIX IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Appreciation Talks this Autumn from Helen Astrid __________________________________
  • NEW! TENOR NICHOLAS PHAN IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER SALLON __________________________________
  • NEW! THE PIANIST GEORGE HARLIONO IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! A Major Work by Stanford to be Premiered – 99 Years Late! __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR ALEXANDER SLADKOVSKY IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! THE TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! RAFAL BLECHACZ IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month