Editor: Marc Bridle
Len Mullenger: Len@musicweb-international.com
S & H Concert Review
Pärt, Bruch, Sibelius: Akiko
Suwanai, Japan Philharmonic Orchestra/Neeme Järvi. RFH, Friday, March 8th,
Founded in 1956 by the Bunka Hoso Broadcasting Company,
the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra brought with them one of the most exciting
young violinists in front of the public today, Akiko Suwanai,
whose disc of the DvořŠk violin concerto
with the Budapest Festival Orchestra impressed so much (Philips 464
531-2). Certainly the Japanese contingent was out in force, and I have
to say that rarely have I heard such a silent and attentive audience!
Before that, however, there was the intriguing linking
of Estonia (times two!) and Japan in Arvo Pärtís Cantus in memoriam
Benjamin Britten (1977) and Fratres in its 1991 version for
strings and percussion. Both works take basic building blocks and have
an effortless, cumulative quality about them, and both would have benefited
from more depth of sound from the string choir, but their basic attribute
of inevitability nevertheless shone through.
Max Bruchís First Violin Concerto was the highlight
of the evening: Suwanaiís mere presence seemed to raise the orchestral
playing to a new level, although the more Europeanised ardour of her
playing seemed to somewhat emphasise the coldness of the JPOís string
phrasing. Her first note emerged effortlessly out of the wind chords,
introducing a performance in which her superb technical security was
totally in service to her impassioned playing. Always she had something
to offer, from the expressive vibrato of the Adagio to the virtuosity
of the finale (superb pitching). She has recorded this piece with the
ASMF/Marriner on Philips 454 180-2, coupled with the Scottish Fantasy.
Depth of string sound was again problematical in Sibeliusí
Second Symphony. But the point is that Järvi knows this score inside
out and the performance was made so interesting by its wealth of insights.
It was clear that an enormous amount of rehearsal time had gone into
chordal balance as well as clear structural thought. Only the first
movement struck me as too fast, Allegro/Allegrissimo rather than Allegretto.
An intriguing evening.
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