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Methronomic precision, accented imagistics

Grand Palace Hall
09/19/2005 -  
Prokofiev : Symphony no. 5 in B flat major op. 100
Brahms : Concerto no. 2 in B flat major op. 83 for piano and orchestra

Elisabeth Leonskaja (piano)
Orchestre National de France, Kurt Masur (conductor)

The two piano concertos by Brahms were both performed in the Festival, the first by the Grimaud – Norrington “team” (with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra), the second by Elisabeth Leonskaja and Orchestre National de France conducted by Kurt Masur. Elisabeth Leonskaja is a former winner of the First Prize at the “George Enescu” Competition and as such, the expectations were high. One must say that they were met - not much more than that.

This real "symphony with piano" as the Concerto no. 2 in B flat major op. 83 may be called was from the very beginning a convenient option for the reputed artist. Under her hands, in the first section (Allegro ma non troppo) the proper emphasis was given and the lyric pages appeared with transparency in an – let’s say - impresionistic manner. All with a well balanced dosage. We regained in the second movement, Allegro appassionato, interior torments expressed without limitations, directly, vehemently - a real revolt. A joking playfulness in the third part, Allegretto grazioso, came as though an alternative to the dramatism of the work which Masur and Leonskaja finalized with generous tempi, clearly defined.

Before the piano concerto, Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony was played again in the Grand Palace Hall. Having fresh in mind the version proposed by Vladimir Jurowski with the London Philharmonic, we found through Kurt Masur and the Orchestre National de France a lecture full of nervous findings, lead with methronomic precision and accented imagistics. Overall, honestly, two important interpretations of the same opus in an interval no longer than four days! That's quite a luxury, isn't it?

Costin Popa



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