Wagner, Brahms and Sibelius at the RFH


Yesterday evening's concert at the Royal Festival Hall was given by the Philharmonia Orchestra under the Finnish conductor Leif Segerstam - with his white hair and beard looking like a genial Father Christmas in evening dress. After the opening work, Wagner's Overture to Die Meistersinger von N├╝rnberg, Boris Berezovsky performed Brahms's First Piano Concerto. I wrote in a post earlier this year about the poor critical reception this concerto originally received, only becoming recognized as a masterpiece later. It's a monumental work: Berezovsky gave a thoughtful and restrained performance, if somewhat lacking in momentum; though the last movement came closer to catching fire.

No such concerns about the final work, though, Sibelius's Second Symphony. Composed in 1902 at a time when Finland was struggling to escape from Russian domination, the Symphony (despite Sibelius's denials) became associated with the country's struggle. It's lyrical and melodic, though with a dark and dramatic undertow, and Segerstam conducted it with passion: the windswept Finnish lansdcape and the spirit of the country were convincingly evoked.

Posted: Fri - October 3, 2008 at 10:38 AM by Roger Wilmut          

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