John Lill’s Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 Beguiles Bournemouth Audience

28/01/2016

Kodály, Beethoven, Brahms: John Lill (piano) Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Christoph Kőnig (conductor), The Lighthouse, Poole, 27.1.2016. (IL)

Kodály – Dances of Galánta
Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor
Brahms  – Symphony No. 3 in F Major

John Lill received thunderous applause from the Bournemouth audience for his compelling, beguiling reading of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. Long recognised as one of the leading interpreters of Beethoven, Lill delivered a strong, expert performance that was fluent and dexterous, with beautiful sensitivity of touch and phrasing in the enchanting, lyrical, central Largo movement.  Kőnig’s accompaniment appealed a little more to the heart than to the head (more Weingartner than Furtwängler) magisterial but gently lyrical in the opening movement with an appealing bounce in the concluding Rondo.

Kőnig’s opening movement of the Brahms Symphony No. 3 was hurried and business-like leaving little time for the more expansive passages to breathe and show their beauty but the concluding Allegro was splendidly assertive and exciting. The middle movements, thankfully, were allowed to unfold in a more gentle relaxed atmosphere, the charming Andante nicely phrased and nuanced. The Poco Allegretto movement sang with exquisite tenderness.  Not heard for many years this reviewer was able, at long last, to forget the cringe- provoking popular song ‘You’re the Song Angels Sing’ that pinched this melody, surely one of Brahms’s most memorable tunes.

The concert began with a Kodály’s Dances of Galánta (a small town in north-western Hungary in the composer’s day but now included in Slovakia). Kőnig clearly has great affinity for this music.  His reading included an appealing, mischievous whimsicality and in the music’s more serious vein a gorgeous luscious string tone.

Ian Lace

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