Imperial Beethoven and Darkest Shostakovich at Bournemouth

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Beethoven, Shostakovich: Simon Trpčeski (piano), Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/ Andrew Litton (conductor), Lighthouse, Poole, 13.4.2016. (IL)

Beethoven:  Piano Concerto No. 5in E flat Major ‘Emperor’

Shostakovich: Symphony No.10 in E minor

Simon Trpčeski is building up an impressive reputation through acclaimed concert performances and recordings. Listening to him and watching him is a delight. Whereas so many concert pianists are solemn, their minds completely concentrated on their fingers’ tasks, Trpčeski is more animated, clearly enjoying himself, his face more often than not relaxed in broad smiles, his head frequently turned towards the orchestra unaffectedly interested in and enjoying their contribution. His reading of Beethoven’s justly popular Emperor Piano Concerto was powerful and exquisitely refined. (Annoyingly, the persistent ringing of a mobile phone, ruined the uplifting central Adagio at its most sublime moment. Trpčeski continued undeterred. A true professional.)

Shostakovich’s prodigious Tenth Symphony is one of his greatest works. It was premiered in 1953 in Leningrad (now St Petersburg). As the composer wrote, “I composed the music right after Stalin’s death; it’s about Stalin and the Stalin years”. As my colleague, Terry Barfoot, remarked in his programme notes for this concert, ‘It is therefore possible to interpret the work as a personal statement concerning the individual’s triumph over fate, over repression.’ The music therefore is dark and uncompromising, often tortured, the wit sinister with little room for humanity and warmth. Yet the material always holds the ear through its often frantic pace and extraordinary instrumental effects and vivid, even lurid colours. Andrew Litton, always welcome at the Lighthouse (it will be remembered that he started his conducting career here, serving as principal conductor of the BSO from 1988 to 1994) led a powerful and exciting performance full of pep and attack, conducting with great animation and gusto and, for instance, directing the brass, in no uncertain terms to pack punch into their delivery.

This was a most stimulating concert.

Ian Lace


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