Music of grace and charm lit with as much flamboyance as he dared to parade; Steven Isserlis conveyed the age-of-Haydn in the Cello Concerto in D major.
The first movement cadenza, articulated with airy elegance, presaged the beautiful, singing lines of the Adagio. Delightfully tuneful, the finale partnered Isserlis’s vigorous virtuosity with wit; Kirill Karabits calling the four wind players to stand in emphasis of their one major role; followed by the upper strings.
Only the BBC Radio 3 announcer was privy to the encore’s provenance, but the fact that Karabits’ performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No7 was aired live, and by default, recorded was a stroke of good fortune. It was magnificent.
Carefully balancing the contrast of sophisticated delicacy with robustly pointed rhythms and with flautist Anna Pyne‘s sonorous lead-in to the Vivace, the die was cast. Lower strings in measured beat opened the Allegretto from which Karabits persuasively projected the changing moods with penetrating insight.
In the penultimate movement Beethoven determines to show that the same dancing pattern can be taken bare-foot or stamped-out in hob-nailed boots.
And what momentum in the obsessive, whirlwind finale. Karabits had his players primed and the result was stunning: ideally this should be coupled with some good footage of A4 Mallard in full flight! Was Beethoven psychic? Or psychotic-as Weber would have it ‘ripe for the madhouse’?
Prokofiev’s Sinfonietta has much old-school allure in its favour. The Andante promised something cheerful-surfacing during the Intermezzo.
If the Scherzo was pizz. with fizz; the finale made a fun-filled romp.