Monday, December 28, 2020

Les Echos: Le top 10 des albums classiques 2020

Les Echos
Philippe Venturini
23.12.2020

La pandémie n'a pas vraiment freiné l'édition de disques classiques. D'Erkki-Sven Tüür à Chostakovith, Brahms, Beethoven ou Bach, de sonates en symphonies, les grands compositeurs ont été bien servis. Voici nos enregistrements préférés de l'année.

Erkki-Sven Tüür - Symphonie n° 9 « Mythos ». Sow the wind… - Estonian Festival Orchestra, Paavo Järvi (dir.)

La « Symphonie n° 9 » résume le style à la fois direct et raffiné de l'Estonien Erkki-Sven Tüür, né en 1959. Volontiers éclectique et accessible, elle convoque l'orchestre dans toute sa puissance organique et ses larges dimensions, lui insuffle une inépuisable énergie, probable souvenir du passé de rocker du compositeur, fait briller les instruments de mille feux. Irrésistible.

Paavo Järvi :"Jedes Jahr ist Beethovenjahr"

DW
Gaby Reucher
December 2020


Was kommt nach dem Beethoven-Jubiläumsjahr? Dirigent Paavo Järvi spricht mit der DW über Beethoven 2021 und seine Gedanken zum Konzertleben nach Corona.

Der estnische Dirigent Paavo Järvi ist bekannt für seine Liebe zum Detail und die akribische Auseinandersetzung mit den Komponisten und ihren Werken. Seit 2004 ist er Chefdirigent der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Zusammen mit dem weltweit renommierten Orchester hat er das viel beachtete Beethoven-Projekt, die Sinfonien von Robert Schumann und zuletzt den Brahms-Zyklus realisiert. Der DW-Film zum Beethoven-Projekt wurde preisgekrönt. Wegen der Corona-Pandemie konnten sämtliche im Rahmen des Beethoven-Jubiläums 2020 geplanten Aufführungen des Beethoven-Zyklus nicht stattfinden. Im Interview mit der DW erzählt der Stardirigent, wie er die musikalische Zukunft nach Corona sieht.

DW: Anlässlich des 250. Geburtstag von Ludwig van Beethoven wollten Sie mit der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie Bremen und Beethovens Neun Sinfonien noch einmal auf Tournee gehen. Konzerte in Bremen und Frankfurt wurden vom Frühjahr auf den Herbst verschoben und jetzt mit dem neuen Lockdown endgültig abgesagt. Ebenso wie die geplanten Konzerte in Tokio. Das war sicher enttäuschend für Sie und das Orchester.

Paavo Järvi: Natürlich hatten wir die Hoffnung, dass sich die Konzerte noch irgendwie realisieren lassen würden. Aber der Musikbetrieb geht ja weiter und legt dann nicht mehr unbedingt den Fokus auf Beethoven.

Wenn es noch zu einer Aufführung des Beethoven-Zyklus kommt, speziell mit der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie, die sehr bekannt ist für dieses Repertoire, dann wahrscheinlich am ehesten in Tokio. Mein Traum wäre es auch, den in Frankfurt geplanten Zyklus noch einmal aufzugreifen. Aber gerade jetzt gibt es einen enormen Rückstau all der Projekte, die nicht stattfinden konnten. Wir müssen abwarten, wie die Organisatoren weiter verfahren. Das wird wahrscheinlich in den nächsten Monaten entschieden.

Ich dachte, in Deutschland wäre es einfacher, Beethoven-Konzerte nachzuholen, weil das Beethoven-Jahr wegen der Ausfälle in der Corona-Pandemie offiziell bis September 2021 verlängert wurde.

Ich hoffe es, aber in Wahrheit ist ja jedes Jahr ein Beethovenjahr. Beethoven wird immer gefeiert und gespielt, da gibt es keinen Mangel. In Deutschland wird noch mal ein Akzent gesetzt. Da fände ich es allerdings wichtiger, Beethoven-Stücke zu spielen, die selten gespielt werden. Das Ganze einmal anders aufziehen und mit anderen Sachen zu kombinieren: Das wäre eine interessante Idee. Aber das sind reine Spekulationen. Im Moment haben wir eigentlich keine Idee, wie wir in den Musikbetrieb zurückkommen. Da sieht es nicht sehr vielversprechend aus.

Viele Musiker sagen, sie hätten den Lockdown genutzt, ganz andere Stücke zu spielen als im Konzertbetrieb oder neues Repertoire zu entdecken. Haben sie die Zeit für die seltenen Beethoven-Stücke genutzt?

Ich persönlich habe die Zeit genutzt, um mich mit neuem Repertoire zu befassen. Wenn man jede Woche dirigiert und jede Woche ein anderes Programm spielt, bleibt dafür sehr wenig Zeit. Ich habe mich tiefgründiger mit einem Repertoire beschäftigt, das ich vorher noch nie ins Auge gefasst hatte. Da gibt es Komponisten, mit denen wir kaum in Berührung kommen.

Ich habe mir viel Musik des 20. Jahrhunderts angeschaut, von Witold Lutosławski über Sergei Prokofjew bis hin zu Krzysztof Penderecki, zu Arthur Honegger oder Bohuslav Martinů. Das sind alles Komponisten, deren Namen man zwar kennt, die aber kaum jemand aufführt. Es gibt einiges an bemerkenswert guter Musik von diesen Komponisten. Und da sind noch mehr. Ich studiere gerade Eduard Tubins Sinfonien, sehr unterschätzte, wundervolle Sinfonien aus Estland. Das Repertoire ist so umfangreich, dass es mehr als ein Leben braucht, um nur annähernd ein bisschen davon erkunden zu können. Da gibt es einfach nicht genug Zeit.

Es sei denn, Corona wird den Musikbetrieb noch länger so stark einschränken…

Ja, das Positive daran ist - abgesehen natürlich von den Nöten der Musiker - etwas Zeit zu haben. Nicht nur um neues Repertoire zu lesen und zu erforschen, sondern auch für Podcasts, Videogespräche mit Studierenden, mit jungen Musikern oder Dirigenten. Bei Diskussionen im Netz über verschiedene Komponisten war ich überrascht, wie viele Leute sich zugeschaltet haben, nur um über Musik zu sprechen und über Komponisten zu diskutieren.

Was denken Sie, wie Corona die Musikwelt verändern wird? Ob es danach zum Beispiel noch die großen Tourneen geben wird?

Das ist interessant zu beobachten. Es gibt viele Spekulationen und viele Leute versuchen herauszufinden, wie es weiter geht. Dazu gehört auch die Idee, dass die Orchester nicht mehr so viel auf Tournee gehen sollen, sondern mehr für das Publikum vor Ort spielen. Es geht darum, auch ökologisch verantwortungsbewusst zu handeln, indem man nicht so oft zu weltweiten Veranstaltungsorten fliegt.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Paavo Järvi, um dos maiores maestros europeus: “Beethoven não se esgota”

Veja
16.12.2020





Escuto Beethoven desde pequeno. Meu pai era maestro e uma parte habitual da nossa vida familiar na Estônia, onde cresci nos anos 70, consistia em nos sentarmos em volta do aparelho de som para ouvir juntos gravações. Na Estônia sob ocupação soviética havia um forte foco no repertório russo, mas, ainda assim, o compositor de maior destaque sempre era Beethoven. Quando criança, eu ouvia religiosamente as famosas gravações de Fürtwangler e Karajan, maestros lendários que ganharam reputação como os maiores intérpretes da música de Beethoven, e isso influenciou muito a maneira como eu ouvia sua música. Foi só quando cheguei aos Estados Unidos, em 1980, que tive contato pela primeira vez com as interpretações do movimento musical clássico “autêntico”, incluindo apresentações de maestros como Harnoncourt e Norrington. A abordagem e o som deles eram tão radicalmente diferentes que foi como um novo despertar que me fez questionar verdades comuns com as quais eu havia crescido.

Em minha experiência como maestro na Filarmônica de Câmara de Bremen, logo ficou claro que era muito fácil programar as sinfonias ao redor do mundo, pois Beethoven tem uma espécie de toque mágico. Daí surge a pergunta: por que confiamos tão explicitamente em Beethoven e por que ele ainda é tão popular? A conclusão a que cheguei é que há uma qualidade na música de Beethoven que faz com que você sinta que ele está dizendo a verdade — e não há dúvida de que sua música tem uma força tão convincente a ponto de ninguém questionar seu valor ou mensagem. Também parece que é subconsciente, pois sua popularidade não é resultado de um filme como Amadeus, que levou a música de Mozart às massas. Esse nunca foi o caso de Beethoven. De algum modo, ele tem uma credibilidade inerente: as pessoas acreditam intuitivamente nele.

Neste momento, o legado de Beethoven parece mais relevante que nunca, à medida que nos tornamos cada vez mais céticos a respeito das coisas infundadas que ouvimos de líderes políticos e que lemos nas redes sociais. O que nós precisamos agora é de algo em que possamos acreditar, e Beethoven preenche essa lacuna. Da mesma forma que são importantes para nós agora, os temas da liberdade e dos valores democráticos também foram pilares em que Beethoven acreditava piamente e que foram incorporados à sua música há mais de dois séculos — a Ode à Alegria, da Nona Sinfonia, o gesto político que ele realizou ao eliminar o nome de Napoleão da Eroica e sua crença, exaltada na partitura de Fidelio, de que o amor verdadeiro pode triunfar sobre a ditadura. Ele sonhava com um futuro melhor, equiparável a sua habilidade musical e senso de humanidade.

Alguns perguntam se precisamos celebrar Beethoven, já que, de qualquer forma, ele é tocado com tanta frequência. A meu ver, a questão não é essa. Precisamos celebrar os símbolos da nossa cultura, ainda mais quando a maior parte da cultura popular tem muito pouco valor musical. O que continuamos a aprender através da sua música é o padrão de referência em termos de qualidade, e é por isso que devemos aproveitar qualquer oportunidade para celebrá-lo.

Sem dúvida alguma, o ciclo completo de sinfonias e aberturas de Beethoven que gravei à frente da Filarmônica de Câmara de Bremen é a mais importante prova musical da minha vida até o momento, motivo de orgulho para mim. Ao continuar a reger Beethoven, ainda me pego repensando muitas das coisas que fiz antes e experimentando novas abordagens. Esta é mais uma prova da grandeza das suas composições: há tantas camadas e o material é tão rico que as maneiras de olhar para ele são inesgotáveis. Com a música de alguns compositores, a interpretação permanece igual a cada retorno. No caso das sinfonias de Beethoven, você pode tocá-las de maneiras radicalmente diferentes e continuar a aprender algo novo. Essa não é, afinal, a marca inequívoca de um gênio?

* Paavo Järvi, 57 anos, é maestro titular da Filarmônica de Câmara de Bremen, Alemanha

Publicado em VEJA de 16 de dezembro de 2020, edição nº 2717 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Paavo Järvi conducts Tchaikovsky with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich [Alpha]

Classical Source
Ates Orga
November 2020

Back in 2012, towards the end of his Frankfurt RSO tenure, Paavo Järvi showed his broader Tchaikovsky hand with a particularly appealing account of the vernal First Symphony. Combining Germanic underlay with Russian fantasy, muscular orchestral textures with solo cameos and chamber offsets, sentiments of different shades, it wasn’t Tchaikovsky in the throaty, gravelled, all-guns blazing Svetlanov or Gergiev mould. But it had plenty going for it, a mixture of northern moods, sunsets and nights, lyric song and balletic embrace, reminding us quietly that the same waters of the Gulf of Finland link Tallinn, Järvi’s birthplace, with St Petersburg scarcely five hours northeast.

Just over a year ago Järvi was appointed Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich – a challenging Diapason d’Or Messiaen release launching a deal with Alpha. Now sees the start of a new Tchaikovsky cycle promising culture and class before crassness. As a concert these same forces undertook in Vienna last January showed [https://www.classicalsource.com/concert/tonhalle-orchester-zurich-paavo-jarvi-in-vienna-bela-bartoks-dance-suite-and-pyotr-tchaikovskys-fifth-symphony-martin-frost-plays-aaron-coplands-clarinet-concerto-live-webcast/], the style and substance of the Fifth Symphony is ingrained in their DNA. Big dynamic range, hard yet cushioned tuttis, warmly lyrical contrasts, beauty of sound and detail at a premium, structure and theatre hand in hand. Opting for the large-scale overview, letting facets glint the horizon that others underplay or take too easily for granted, is part and parcel of Järvi’s mature language these days. Conscious that shaded brushstrokes will often say more than bright stage lighting, he doesn’t need to over-act a story to get the message across.

Typical touches abound, small in themselves perhaps but catching the ear. The closing hairpins of the first movement, for instance, increasing then easing the dynamic; the bassoon rubato (taking a hint from the ‘solo’ marking of the score) and string accents at the end of the (tenderly caressed) Valse; the snarling, roaring timpani crescendoleading into the allegro of the Finale, a single bar of compelling brilliance. In performance and recording terms, there are plenty enough soundbites to recommend this version. The Finale for one: splendid in every way, the orchestra exultant, relishing the pulse and splendour of the occasion, rising as one to Järvi’s needs and nuances. The Andante cantabile for another: not just the contouring of the horn tune and its continuation but the refinements of accompaniment and phrasing, the darker recesses of timbre, the structuring of climaxes, the refusal to let events drag. Notwithstanding the Tonhalle’s reference recordings under David Zinman, Music Director from 1995 to 2014 (Strauss and Mahler in particular), this is interpretation, playing, production and sound engineering on an epic, eloquent scale. Byronic Romanticism.

In the tradition of the Liszt tone poems, and Tchaikovsky’s own, earlier and later, Francesca da Rimini, after Dante (1876), is a bold drama, a tragic fate ‘opera’ for orchestra in three idée fixe referenced acts with Vorspiel, played without a break. The finest conductors have tackled this showpiece. It separates the men from the boys. Suffice that Järvi’s is a reading up there with the greats. He sets the bar high. “One Hell of a performance” deems a colleague, verging on understatement. The tension is volcanic, the whole sweep and panorama a film spiralling deathwards, emotions and ‘Second Circle’ punishment laid bare. The music vents a phenomenal display of virtuosity and unanimity from the Tonhalle, across the board from visceral strings to fiery brass to the plaintive clarinet song of the central Andante. The electricity of the moment, the sense of infernal storms and Saturnian forces unleashed, of musicians taken over by dimensions beyond them, hits one fair and square.

Live through the seventy-four minutes of this disc, and you’ll reach the last seconds gasping, without words, drained by the intensity of the narrative. Heaven only knows what the players must have felt. Elated yet floored. Wiped out yet triumphant. Järvi at his best.




TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5

MusicWeb International
William Hedley
03.12.2020

Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony opens, like the Fourth before it, and like Beethoven’s Fifth for that matter, with fate knocking at the door. Those who find this idea unconvincing – or are simply fed up of hearing it – should know that, in this case, it comes from the composer himself. But fate, though an irresistible force, can often be a force for good. The luckier ones amongst us are aware of this, and the Fifth confirms it, by a journey that ends in triumph. This is Tchaikovsky, however, so the road is difficult; and victory, though hard won, could well be no more than provisional.

This very fine performance from Zurich begins in deep melancholy rather than foreboding, the two clarinets in unison beautifully woody in the lower register. The movement as a whole positively fizzes with musical invention, and Järvi is more than keen to go along with it. The overall tempo for the movement is uncontroversial, as it is for pretty much the whole work – only once did I mark anything to do with basic tempo in my notes. Järvi is refreshingly flexible as regards pulse, but his expressive manoeuvres all seem natural and spontaneous. How naturally he eases off the pulse for the rising string phrase – with answering woodwind motif – that sounds like it’s going to be the second subject, just as he does in the singing, D major melody that is the real second subject shortly afterwards. The many dramatic moments are skilfully handled too, with striking, dogged tread to launch the movement’s coda.

Järvi’s way with the opening bars of the slow movement makes rather more of them than a simple series of preparatory chords. I have heard slower accounts of this movement, but the chosen tempo avoids indulgence whilst giving the musicians time to express themselves. This the principal horn, and a little later in duet with the principal clarinet, do most successfully. If the clarinet could be a little louder the echo effect is none the less brought out most beautifully. There is a moment in this movement, as there is in the finale too, where tenderness seems to be getting the upper hand but is cut off with a shocking explosion of violence followed by disillusion. This is marked fff in the score, superbly handled here, and the listener notices how careful Järvi is throughout to show that ff and fff are not at all the same thing. The third movement is a waltz that could have come from one of Tchaikovsky’s ballets – or so one thinks at first. I’m no dancer, but even those with greater skills than I would have difficulty dancing the waltz to this music, especially when fate returns to the scene. The unexpectedly loud ending is not the only equivocal feature of this movement, whose conflicting elements are skilfully managed in this performance.

Despite the sombre colours, the finale opens with the fate motif in the major key, the music steadfast, a glimmer of hope already. Once the main section of the movement is launched, Järvi never lets up. Tempi are rapid, the playing of virtuoso standard. A key event for this listener is the arrival of the second theme, an absolutely thrilling moment with the lower strings inexorably driving the music on. Järvi does not disappoint; indeed, driving the music on is exactly what he does, right up to the final pages, particularly forceful and exciting.

Hans Keller once wrote that the Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony was so well known that he was almost embarrassed to be writing about it. I feel much the same when it comes to comparing this new performance with earlier ones, if only because they are so numerous, and with so many of outstanding merit. Two classic performances are those by Mravinsky (DG), or Maris Jansons (Chandos), part of his marvellous series with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. I’d like to recommend two byways. Constantin Silvestri was a fine conductor indeed, and readers are encouraged to seek out his 1957 performance with the Philharmonia Orchestra on EMI Warner. Another very satisfying reading, and an intriguing prospect that pays handsomely, was released by BIS in 2013. Christian Lindberg conducts the Arctic Philharmonic.

Fate also has a hand in the story of Francesca da Rimini and her lover, Paolo, though in their case the price to pay for an illicit love affair is literally a fate worse than death. I’ve never been able to get on with this work, finding that the story brought out the worst in Tchaikovsky, whereas the best of him, as in the Fifth Symphony and so many other works, and this despite all the drama and anguish, conveys sentiments which are both grand and noble. But Järvi and his marvellous orchestra play the work for all it is worth, its passion and violence brought out in all its Technicolor ferocity.

The booklet suggests that these were live performances, which might account for the white-hot performance of Francesca da Rimini, as well as the gripping final pages of the symphony. There is not a sign of audience noise and no applause at the end. The recording is outstanding, full, rich and with impeccable balance. The booklet carries a short essay in German and in English by Ulrike Thiele, some attractive photographs taken in performance and, commendably, a full list of the orchestra’s members.

The beautiful, haunted symphonies of Franz Schmidt

The Spectator
Richard Bratby
05.12.2020

Dogged by false accusations that he was a Nazi, the Austrian composer has finally been brought in from the cold.

Composer Franz Schmidt with conductor Oswald Kabasta before the premiere of his oratorio The Book with Seven Seals in 1938. Photo: Imagno / Getty Images

The sounds that Franz Schmidt made while learning the trumpet were pretty much unbearable, or so the story goes. In order to practise he would leave his home in the Lower Austrian town of Perchtoldsdorf and walk up to the heath, a grassy hillside above the town. There, far from unappreciative neighbours, and looking down towards the spires of Vienna, a few miles north and east, he could crack notes to his heart’s content — in perfect isolation.

Some artists hand you their metaphors on a plate. Schmidt spent his career trying to escape the suburbs of central European music, dogged by private grief and professional frustration. ‘Someone with a name like Schmidt should never become an artist,’ declared his piano teacher. Later, he played the cello in the Vienna Opera under Gustav Mahler — who stood by while the orchestra’s leader bullied Schmidt into submission. Schmidt lost a wife to mental illness (the Nazis murdered her after his death) and a daughter to childbirth, and continued to write music through heart attacks and nervous breakdowns, even after doctors told him that the effort would kill him — which it did in 1939, 11 months after the Anschluss.

It might have been better for his legacy if he’d died a bit sooner. Schmidt was — that old get-out — not interested in politics, but in his dying months Austria’s new rulers commissioned him to write a propaganda cantata. He never completed it, instead devoting his failing energies to a piano quintet for an old friend, the Jewish pianist Paul Wittgenstein. But for some, it’s proof that Schmidt was an enthusiastic Nazi, and if you ignore the testimony of Schmidt’s admirers Hans Keller and Oskar Adler — who knew him, and insisted ‘with all the emphasis at my disposal’ that he was neither a Nazi nor an anti-Semite — it’s case closed. Schmidt was no Strauss, Stravinsky or Webern, to name just three 20th-century composers whose music is charismatic enough (or so it seems) to allow listeners and performers to gloss over some, well, let’s call them ‘problematic’ political choices.

Schmidt’s music has survived as a cult item, beloved of record collectors and champions of oddball symphonists. His fans make heroic claims: a musicologist friend assures me that Schmidt is ‘one of the greatest contrapuntists of all time’. Well, maybe: when I heard his Fourth Symphony at the Proms in 2018, my companion fell asleep. Whatever his finer qualities (and musicologists are rather like accountants: on paper, at least, they can make anything add up to a masterpiece) Schmidt has never really found his audience. If you don’t warm to his blend of surging romanticism and oddly detached mock-baroque rigour, no theoretical argument is going to persuade you.

But if you do, a new recording of his four symphonies from Frankfurt, conducted by Paavo Jarvi, is tantamount to mainstream endorsement. It’s on Deutsche Grammophon, complete with the yellow cartouche and moody conductor photo that — in the world of classical recordings, anyway — still signifies prestige. The symphonies themselves are postcards from a collapsing culture. The First, premièred in Vienna in 1902, is all lush strings and leaping horns. ‘I sing as the bird sings,’ Schmidt wrote on the score: an ambitious 28-year-old asserting his place in what he confidently assumed was a living tradition. The Second was premièred in 1913, and like Elgar’s Second or Mahler’s Eighth, it’s one of those proud, glittering pre-1914 epics that seem to embody a civilisation on the brink. Jarvi’s performance is resplendent, if not quite as convincing as Dmitri Mitropoulos’s sweeping (if scratchy) 1958 recording from Vienna.

I’ve never clicked with Schmidt’s Third (1928) — a lyrical symphony with a faintly unreal air, written in a shrivelled post-Imperial Austria to mark Schubert’s centenary. It feels as though it should be wearing a dirndl. But the beautiful, haunted Fourth (1933) is another matter, composed after the death of Schmidt’s daughter Emma and cast in a single huge span of music. If Strauss and Mahler were romanticism’s fabulous sunset, by Schmidt’s Fourth only the afterglow remains. Night is falling, and there’s a chill in the air. Schmidt’s classical logic becomes the natural language of a composer who felt more isolated than ever. The symphony’s intimate confessions and nightmarish collapses emerge gradually (and in Jarvi’s performance, inevitably) before unravelling into silence.

It ends, as it begins, with a lone trumpet floating a wavering, desolate melody towards a dark and uncertain horizon. Cold comfort, though Schmidt, alone on his hillside, at least lets us hear why it could be no other way. Again: it’s not for everyone. But if, after the past few months, you can still bring yourself to value art for the resonance of its solitude or the quality of its despair, Franz Schmidt might offer something in the way of consolation as the lights go out.

Franz Schmidt’s Complete Symphonies, recorded by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony conducted by Paavo Jarvi, is out now on Deutsche Grammophon.

A box of French delights from the Paavo Järvi and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester

Bachtrack
Chris Garlick
28.11.2020


A French evening of 20th-century neoclassical works was a breath of fresh air. It was good to hear a German orchestra find the necessary flexibility, lightness of tone and wit that is so intrinsic to French music of this period. Paavo Järvi is a conductor who finds his home in most musical genres he turns to and he certainly helped the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester produce warm hearted accounts of all the works on offer.

Poulenc's Sinfonietta (1947) is a work that has never really caught on as much as his early ballet Les Biches. The composer seemed to be somewhat inhibited in the first movement, with its rather awkward sonata form. However, he becomes more relaxed as the movements progress, relying sensibly on his bottomless pit of gentle charm and melodic gifts. The Andante cantabile is particularly lovely creation, its exquisite string melody luxuriously played here.

Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin is another charmer. It has that quality of perfection Ravel instinctively aspired to throughout his career. Sanity and grace are an antidote to his experiences on the frontline in the First World War, each movement commemorating lost friends. In this performance the tricky woodwind writing wasn’t given the slickest of performances in all departments, but there was much needed character to the playing overall, which is perhaps preferable in this case to over-refinement. The Menuet was a particular joy, capturing the affectionate sadness of the piece.

Albert Roussel is a deeply under-appreciated composer in the concert hall. Occasional outings of his Third Symphony and his ballet Bacchus et Ariane, touch only the tip of a very interesting iceberg. His late Sinfonietta for Strings is a work full of neoclassical wit and a more propulsive symphonic toughness. As with many of his works, the true depth of feeling is only heard in the slow movements, here a rather dark place. However, it only momentarily interrupts the energetic flow, leading directly into the rhythmic and exciting finale. The Elbphilharmonie strings had just the right balance of heft and flexibility and Järvi drove things along with gusto.

Jacques Ibert is another French composer too often overlooked in the concert hall. His irreverent Divertissement was written in 1929, originally as the incidental music to a production of The Italian Straw Hat, and is his most played work for good reason. It is a delightful mixture of the playful, the mysterious and the devil may care. It is a work that needs a particularly light and bright touch. Järvi and his orchestra, particularly the brass section, were clearly enjoying themselves here, relishing every absurd twist and turn.



This performance was reviewed from the Elbphilharmonie video stream.