Thursday, July 29, 2010

Drama from the off in Beethoven double

By Nick Kimberley, Evening Standard 28.07.10

Some symphonies open with a grand flourish, others start small, while the beginning of Beethoven’s First Symphony plunges us straight into the action, as if we’re overhearing something that has already begun and has just got really interesting. That, at least, is how it felt as Paavo Järvi opened the second of this year’s all-Beethoven Proms.

As its name implies, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen is an orchestra on a chamber scale, but it lacks nothing in heft. Accents were punched out and bows dug deep into strings, but the dance rhythms were light and playful, and there were moments of hushed secretiveness.

Nor was there any playing to the gallery in Hilary Hahn’s account of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, yet her performance was only fragile when it needed to be.

Her delicacy of tone and phrasing were magical, her trills had pinpoint precision, every note had a radiant vocal quality.

After the interval, Järvi didn’t even wait for the applause to die down before launching the Fifth Symphony. This was a reading with no time to waste, but every detail, from the tiniest bassoon parp to the merest flute-tweet, registered with the clarity of, precisely, chamber music.

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