An accomplished performance of Beethovenís Leonore No. 3 Overture
opened Zubin Mehtaís LSO concert. Securing polished playing from
the London Symphony Orchestra, notably some quite outstanding woodwind
playing, the performance was given added edge with the incisive interplay
between violins and Ďcellos and the off stage trumpet call. However,
what was lacking was a sense of urgency and tension in the final passages,
with the horns too toned down and the final timpani roll lacking proper
weight and attack.
Mozartís Violin Concerto No.3
in G Major K 218 was given sensitive and refined support from
Mehta and a reduced LSO Ė but what let the performance down was the
florid playing of Midori. Her playing of the Allegro was brittle,
harsh and heavy making the music sound too often as if it had come from
the 19th century. When we got to the Adagio things
got sadly worse with Midoriís playing becoming almost schizoid: in the
quieter passages she would melt into an opaque nothingness breaking
the line of the music, then suddenly change pace and play far too loudly.
She seemed to be aiming for a very wide dynamic range but the result
was wayward and inchoate.
She rushed her way through the
Rondeau at a tremendous pace producing both a scratchy and sour
sound. While it is essential to perform Mozart with vigour, Midori confuses
attack with anarchy: at times the sounds she produced were shrill. Some
of the most exquisite music Mozart created sounded strident and brash
in Midoriís hands. Anne Sophie-Mutterís legendary 1978 performance under
Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is far more
in tune with what Mozart intended with it purity of tone and classical
discipline. (DG 415 327-2).
In complete contrast, Midoriís
full-blooded playing of Elgarís Violin Concerto produced from
her some of the best violin playing I have heard.
Midoriís animal energy is better
suited to Elgarís emotional landscape: rugged, diverse and impassioned.
Mehta opened this symphonic-type concerto with great panache and drive
securing extraordinarily beautiful playing from the LSO, specially from
With the Andante. Midoriís
playing was exquisitely pliant, sounding radiant and delicate: one could
hardly believe this was the same violinist who had been so disappointing
in the first half. The finale began with the soloist in total command
of her dazzling technique, and Mehta drawing intensely impassioned playing
from the LSO.
In the middle of the movement
comes one of Elgarís most inspired pieces of writing: a demanding and
lengthy accompanied cadenza which is both the core and structural climax
of the work. Here the strings are instructed that the pizzicato tremolando
should be thrummed with the soft part of three fingers whilst the violin
plays over themes reprised from the earlier movements. Accompanying
Midoriís fragile and floating phrases, Mehta got the strings to create
an eerie fluttering sound. Her playing of the cadenza itself was radiant
and inspired, holding the entire hall totally in awe. Mehta marched
his forces to a gloriously powerful conclusion which had the audience
Mehta proved himself to be a superb
exponent of Elgar and should certainly record this work with Midori,
with whom he has already made several fine recordings, and the LSO who
responded so magnificently to his baton.