Gianandrea Noseda and the LSO Explore Shakespeare in Music

26/02/2016

 Smetana, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Strauss: Simon Trpčeski (piano), London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda (conductor), Barbican Hall, London, 25.2.2016 (AS)

Smetana: Richard III, Op. 11

Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 2 in A, S125

Tchaikovsky: Fantasy Overture – Romeo and Juliet

Strauss: Macbeth, Op. 23

 

This concert formed part of the LSO’s contributions to a series of events coordinated by King’s College London under the title of “Shakespeare 400”, marking the 400th anniversary of the great man’s death. It was also Gianandrea Noseda’s first concert with the orchestra since the recent announcement of his appointment as its Principal Guest Conductor from August this year.

 

The Shakespeare theme inspired a programme that contained two rarely heard tone poems, Smetana’s Richard III and Strauss’s Macbeth. The former work opened the programme. As might be expected, the highly dramatic nature of Shakespeare’s play evoked a vigorous response in Smetana, and much of the piece has a turbulent quality. It begins promisingly in a quiet and pregnantly atmospheric mood, but soon the material declines into a sequence of noisy and empty bombastic gestures that are devoid of inspiration or character. This is not the Smetana of the First String Quartet, Má Vlast or The Bartered Bride and the work thoroughly deserves its neglect. Noseda and the LSO did their best for it in an energetic, drivingly virtuosic performance.

 

Orchestra and conductor also gave vigorous support to Simon Trpčeski in his performance of Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto, occasionally too much so, since the pianist’s strikingly beautiful tonal lustre was overwhelmed at times. Trpčeski found a quality of elegance and refinement in the music that is not often brought out, and his playing combined a certain aristocracy of delivery with exceptional, crystal-clear virtuosity. His was a most deeply considered and satisfying interpretation of the work. In the solo cello passages Rebecca Gilliver played with great beauty of tone and affecting eloquence.

 

Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet was given a most exciting reading, one that was full of energy, passion and colour. And yet Noseda was very alive to the changes of mood in the work: his changes of pulse and inflections were very telling, and the love theme was shaped with great tenderness.

 

If Smetana’s Richard III only merits a very occasional outing, the neglect of Macbeth among Strauss’s great tone poems is unjustified. Though it is the work of a young man it is constructed in a masterful fashion, is wonderfully scored and has a high quality of musical invention. These attributes were shown perfectly in a Barbican Hall performance by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly last October (review). In Noseda’s reading the LSO rivalled the Leipzig ensemble in its virtuosity if not in its tonal depth or refinement. Some of the blame for a certain brashness of delivery clearly attached to the conductor, for the driving intensity he found in the Tchaikovsky work was not so suitable for Strauss and his high Germanic style. There was plenty of excitement and tension, but not enough repose when this was needed, and the work’s elements of warmth and lofty romanticism were sometimes skimmed over. But it was still good to hear such an assured presentation of it.

 

Alan Sanders

 

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! City Music Foundation July 2019 Summer Residency at The Wallace Collection __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • 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 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! CHORUS MASTER STEPHEN DOUGHTY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 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! English National Ballet Announces Winners of Emerging Dancer 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • 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 __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month