Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Prom 67: Orchestre de Paris/Järvi – review

The Guardian
Tim Ashley
Royal Albert Hall, London
Paavo Järvi gave us quite the Prom: subtle, electrifying and attaining a tragic nobility

Paavo Järvi conducts the Orchestra de Paris at the BBC Proms
Remarkable restraint ... Paavo Järvi conducts the Orchestra de Paris at the Proms. Photograph: Chris Christodoulou
Paavo Järvi's Prom with the Orchestre de Paris was a thing of contrasts. It opened in solemn commemoration of the Britten centenary with Arvo Pärt's Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, followed by Britten's own Violin Concerto, which in turn mourns the death of Alban Berg and the rise of totalitarianism in Europe. After the interval came French Romanticism at its most extravagant with Berlioz's Le Corsaire and Saint-Saëns's Organ Symphony. It was quite a night.
The ritual of Pärt's Cantus, with its stepwise scales and tolling bells, sits astonishing well alongside Britten's concerto, which constrains private grief within the measured formality of a passacaglia. The soloist in the concerto was Janine Jansen, who inhabits its emotional world with an intensity matched by few. Nothing in her playing was histrionic or forced. The balance between grace and aggression, the underlying Mahlerian bitterness and the pervasive sense of yearning were all beautifully done. The passacaglia, with its long search for harmonic resolution, attained a tragic nobility. Järvi's conducting was all the more remarkable for its restraint and subtlety.
Janine Jansen performs at the Proms, August 2013

An intensity matched by few ... Janine Jansen performs at the Proms. Photograph: Chris Christodoulou 
Letting rip after the interval was perhaps necessary. Le Corsaire was all masculine eroticism, swagger and panache. We tend to think of Saint-Saëns's symphony as grandiose, and with Thierry Escaich at the organ, the pomp and circumstance of the finale brought the house down. But Järvi also reminded us that beyond the sonic largesse lurks a work of great structural ingenuity and developmental complexity. Music by Bizet – the Galop from Jeux d'Enfants, the Farandole from L'Arlésienne – formed the encores, played with electrifying precision and bags of charm.5 out of 5


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