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Haydn, Shostakovich, Bartók: Simon Trpceski (piano); LPO/Vladimir Jurowski, QEH, 7.12.2005 (CC)



The Haydn was a symphony – No. 60 in C, otherwise known as 'Il Distratto'. The title comes from a play of that name, for which Haydn composed incidental music in 1774, extracting the present symphony from this source. Unusual in its structure (it is six-movemented), Symphony No. 60's novelties and difficulties seemed to inspire and intrigue the LPO. All credit to the horns and trumpets, who played on natural (ie valveless) instruments and negotiated the sometimes perilous corners with ease. Jurowski's approach was broadly punchy and exciting, clearly informed if not dictated by period practices. More, Jurowski's sense of formal shape was flawless.

The first of the two slow movements (both Andantes) has interruptive brass fanfares that, in this 'authentic' setting, were postitively brazen. This was, indeed an interpretation that brought out the contrasts (the underlying drama of the Menuetto's Trio was there for all to hear). And great fun was had by all in the finale, with its 'pretend' checking of tuning. Perhaps it was in the fourth movement (Presto) that the work's stage origins were most obvious.

Simon Trpceski's recital on Sunday was excellent, and if anything he was in even finer form here, for Shostakovich's Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings, Op. 35 (joined by the excellent Paul Beniston on trumpet). Deliberately metalicising his sound, Trpceski sounded as if born to play this music (if memory serves, in the World Piano Competition of 2000 he played Prokofiev Third Concerto excellently, too – the Russians clearly suit him). Clearly on top form, Trpceski's weighting of individual notes was clearly carefully considered (the simple octave melody of the Lento second movement proving an apt case in point), yet he could come up with machine-gun left-hand octave staccati also. Beniston provided memorable moments of his own, too, his muted legato in the slow movement truly gorgeous. All players seemed to revel in the madcap antics of the finale (tremendous finger-strength from Trpceski, and glissandi to die for).

Finally, a Music from Strings, Percusison & Celesta. A pity the violas were not entirely together at the outset and more depth of tone was required by all (eight double-basses lined up at the back not really giving the heft their physical presence seemed to imply). Jurowski moulded the movement well, structurally, though, inspiring great biting accents in the second movement. If timpani were a little too much in-your-face in the Adagio, the climax had real intensity – yet the QEH's dryness precluded complete involvement. The finale verged on a Hungarian hoe-down at one point, so lively was it. Much applause and cheering, but this was not really the highlight of the evening. For that, we had to think back to the first half's Shostakovich.



Colin Clarke




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