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

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • 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! Opera Holland Park’s 2018 Season Begins Soon __________________________________
  • 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 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018/19 Birmingham Classical Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe Star in The King and I at the London Palladium __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 BBC Proms __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera Celebrates its 25th Anniversary with Nicolò Isouard’s Cinderella __________________________________
  • NEW! Pop-Up Opera’s 2018 Mozart Double Bill __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Abandoned Liszt Opera Sardanapalo Premieres in Weimar in August __________________________________
  • NEW! THE TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! RAFAL BLECHACZ IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! MARKUS POSCHNER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Massenet’s Thaïs at the Cadogan Hall on 23 June __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Carly Paoli Sings for Chelsea Pensioners, at Cadogan Hall, and Signs for Sony/ATV __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • NEW! MICHAEL SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! Trinity Laban Moves to Abolish All-Male Composer Concerts __________________________________
  • NEW! ARABELLA STEINBACHER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR LAURENCE EQUILBEY IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ANDREA CARÈ AS HE RETURNS TO COVENT GARDEN AS DON JOSÉ __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month