One of many many issues we’ll miss when Esa-Pekka Salonen strikes on from his 13 years because the Philharmonia’s principal conductor can be his programming. For this primary of his farewell live shows, he’s not solely chosen what he loves however made certain all of it matches. No two symphonies could possibly be extra completely different than Beethoven’s First and Sibelius’s Seventh (his final), but they each hover – Beethoven playfully, Sibelius enigmatically – round the important thing of C main. The multi-part string hymn close to the start of the Seventh was greater than prefaced by the wind and brass of a Stravinsky masterpiece. And if Liszt’s portmanteau Second Concerto served for present and enjoyable, that the majority centred of leonine pianists Yefim Bronfman anchored us in C main once more on the centre with an ideal encore, Schumann’s Arabeske.
Most necessary of all, an viewers is again within the Royal Competition Corridor to greet the Philharmonia gamers with what Simon Rattle the opposite week known as “that noise you make together with your arms” in addition to loud cheers and a standing ovation. Effectively deserved; the sheer magnificence and spaciousness of the orchestral sound from the spread-out orchestra on the helpfully prolonged platform, resonating in a corridor with fewer individuals in than standard because of the essential Covid restrictions, wanted our presence there to witness what, greater than ever after a yr of semi-silence, felt like a miracle. And look, not one of the fidgety lighting and smoke which have marred the LPO’s livestreams from the identical corridor. Select a color on the magnificently restored organ, keep it up for at the least a motion, ensure that the gamers and conductor are in full mild, and that is all you want.The Beethoven efficiency (pictured above) had all of the advantage of chamber-orchestra crispness – and vivid interval timpani – enriched by resonant ballast from 5 double-basses. Salonen appeared genial however all the time alert, and the great thing about his conducting method was a pleasure in itself within the figures he made with the baton hand because the violins airily elaborate the wind pulsing of the scherzo’s trio. These humorous makes an attempt to make an entire scale from G within the finale’s opening Adagio had been managed with supernatural ability, and the watchful interaction between second violinist Annabelle Meare and chief Zsolt-Tihamér Visontay instructed us, because the sounds already had, what sheer pleasure there was in being again and taking part in collectively.
Bronfman (pictured under with Salonen) is a grasp who can roar like a lion – within the case of the Liszt Concerto, a somewhat comical one prefiguring the proud beast of Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals – and coo like every sucking dove in transcendental reverie. It doesn’t matter that swathes of this work make us snort now with their romantic extra; there’s pleasure there too. But by no means as a lot deep poetry, regardless of the attention-grabbing chord sequences, as within the Schumann Arabeske; Bronfman made the contrasting episodes troubled, the primary sequences objectively lovely, the coda beautiful. If the Beethoven was revelatory, Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Devices was/had been much more so on this astounding efficiency. Having the ensemble unfold the entire width of the prolonged platform, horns to the left answering trombones and tuba to the best, gave further frissons, however the true mastery was in how Salonen dovetailed the varied “soundings-together” (sym-phonies) to create an virtually operatic, actually very vocal set of dialogues, till the hieratic gradual conclusion (in reminiscence of Debussy), transferring to tears.
Salonen’s method to the symphonies of his most well-known compatriot Sibelius has all the time, for me, been hit or miss: grandiose in comparison with the lighter contact and freer movement of different Finnish interpreters like Sakari Oramo, Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Okko Kamu. This Seventh was extra evocative of the Grand Canyon than of northern forests and lakes – and we are typically proper on the backside, grateful to catch glimpses of the sky. However that’s how he sees and hears it, and also you couldn’t argue with the masterly transitions, the excellent solo trombone which anchors the piece (Byron Fulcher), the gilded fringe of horns or – as soon as once more – these heartfelt strings. For the live performance as a complete, the standing ovation was, I repeat, properly deserved.