Elevated Standard of Excellence from Kraggerud’s Violin, Conductor Jacek Kaspszyk and Liverpool Philharmonic

28/10/2017

Mendelssohn, Sibelius & Brahms: Henning Kraggerud (violin), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Jacek Kaspszyk (conductor), Guild Hall, Preston, Lancashire 25.10.2017. (MC)

Jacek Kaspszyk © Juliusz Multarzynski

Jacek Kaspszyk © Juliusz Multarzynski

Mendelssohn – Overture, The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave)

Sibelius – Violin Concerto

Brahms – Symphony No.4

Last season I complimented the quality of the guest conductors at the Liverpool Phil’s Preston series hoping it would not be long before Jacek Kaspszyk, who is music and artistic director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, returned to the Guild Hall. I didn’t have to wait long and was delighted to see Polish conductor Kaspszyk taking the baton again which he did with all his usual alertness and assurance presiding over another impressive concert of Mendelssohn, Sibelius and Brahms. Undoubtedly it would be stimulating to have less familiar works on the programme however one can understand the inclusion of such popular repertory staples especially in performances as excellent as these.

It doesn’t take long to notice that since last season the orchestra, notably the string section, has improved by a significant margin adding finesse and a unity that has created additional sweetness and improved tone colour.

Hard to beat as a concert opener is Mendelssohn’s overture, The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave). The aroma and sting of the salt sea air that the composer strove to evoke from his inspiring trip to the Scottish island of Staffa seemed immediate. With drama and awe Kaspszyk skilfully portrayed a sense of the fierce waves swelling, lashing the imposing basalt columns. The passages of the more tranquil seascape were equally arresting although the spell was rather spoilt on two occasions by the ringing of an errant mobile phone.

I’ve lost count of the number of disappointing performances of the Sibelius Violin Concerto that I’ve sat patiently through including those by celebrated soloists. Thankfully this was not the case with Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud who threw himself into the score with total engagement. In this masterwork of the repertory Kraggerud displayed a striking virtuosity which felt bold with a masculine ruggedness yet natural, attributes so often absent from performance. Rich, mellow sound streamed from his Guarneri del Gesù (1744) of a volume that easily cut through the hall, one known for its challenging acoustics. With soaring sonorities, I loved the biting Nordic chill and sense of mystery that Kraggerud created while the tranquil beauty of the surface and undertow of melancholy of the Adagio was especially spellbinding. Kaspszyk drove his players as hard possible a daring policy that paid dividends. Kraggerud’s passion fuelled performance was a special one of a type that comes around all too infrequently and will stay long in the memory. Without any sense of routine there was an elevated standard of excellence displayed both by soloist and orchestra of a level rarely encountered.

Soloists at the Guild Hall traditionally give encores and Kraggerud didn’t disappoint. From his own composition ‘Equinox’ a collection of postludes in all twenty-four keys the Norwegian chose number seventeen a short accessible work which reminded me of the sound world somewhere between Bruch and Sibelius.

The main work of the evening Brahms Fourth Symphony rightly deserves its enduring popularity in the concert hall. Sometimes described as the ‘Elegiac’ Symphony it remains for many Brahms’s most popular symphony. Brahms worked on the symphony in the Austrian summer resort of Mürzzuschlag in the Styrian Alps. Immediately one sensed how much the Liverpool Phil responded to Kaspszyk’s perceptive direction, with the tempi together with weight of sound feeling ideal throughout. In this vivid and convincing interpretation there was considerable detail and vivid orchestral colouration which easily evoked scenes of verdant Alpine valleys and spectacular mountain peaks with a discernible tinge of sorrow and refection never far away. The unerring sense of grandeur together with considerable depth of feeling resulted in a gripping performance that was a ringing endorsement for Kaspszyk (conducting without a score) and his players.

Michael Cookson

For more about the RLPO click here.

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! The Piccadilly Chamber Music Series in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and More in Buenos Aires in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Spend a Penny for Grange Park Opera’s Lavatorium Rotundum __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! I Musicanti’s Alexandra and the Russians at St Johns Smith Square in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • UPDATED! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House Announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • UPDATED! SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS CHOOSE THEIR ‘BEST OF 2017’ __________________________________
  • NEW! OMER MEIR WELLBER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NEW! GREGOR TASSIE IN CONVERSATION WITH VALENTINA LISITSA __________________________________
  • NEW! Dénes Várjon Talks to Sebastian Smallshaw About Budapest’s Kamara.hu __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY (1962-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Ann Murray’s Masterclass at the V&A Part of Opera: Passion, Power and Politics __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Russian Ballet Icons Gala at the London Coliseum on 25 February __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H