Friday, July 30, 2010

Prom 14 Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie/Järvi at the Albert Hall

By Hilary Finch

The Times

July 28 2010

It is Beethoven who has defined the relationship between Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Only two years after he took over as artistic director the Beethoven Project began; and Tuesday’s Prommers, doubtless already tipped off by the orchestra’s recently completed Beethoven cycle on disc, turned up to hear their Beethoven live.

No one could have been disappointed except, perhaps, those nostalgic for a large, rotund orchestra or those who craved a truly slow slow movement. In their four years of detailed and searching work together on Beethoven, Järvi and his players seem to have left not a pebble of performing practice unturned. And now their style is immediately distinctive: confident shaping through tracing every extreme dynamic and rhythmic nerve-ending of Beethoven’s score, the minute control of every sound, and the meticulous shaping and inflection of every phrase. It’s as though you’re looking over their shoulders into each pencil-marked score. Yet the miracle of it all is that the result is a sense of spontaneous combustion and ever-dangerous living.

The First Symphony was a Classical comedy of manners subverted into mischief and urgency. The con moto in the Andante was taken at its word, with violins and violas chasing each other to the finishing post. It was all perhaps too controlled, too trim for the fiery young Beethoven — but what virtuoso playing, and what high cunning. The Fifth Symphony was little less than a high-definition X-ray into Beethoven’s composing mind: every motif energising the next; wonderful space for the oboe’s questing recitative; and golden horns perfectly placed and poised. The odd, magical hiatus of an inbreath, enlivened every weight and measure.

The delight of this concert was that the soloist in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Hilary Hahn, was so much of the same mind as Järvi and his players. The silverpoint of her playing distilled a purity within the music’s power, and created a renewed sense of wonder in the work.

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