Simply, the LSO is a luxury band, with no weak links, an ensemble of extraordinary integrity and such homogeneity of thought and character that listening to it is like hearing a tight-knit, large scale chamber group whose unity of intention, purpose and direction characterises its every move. Any issues of occasional imbalance in the ensemble are entirely the responsibility of the conductor.
Which brings us neatly to the meat of Saturday night's performances, and Valery Gergiev. He is a man famous and notorious for spending little time on rehearsal, more reliant, presumably, on releasing his high-voltage charge in the spontaneity of live performance. Fine, and occasionally, as I have remarked during this residency, awesome.
But there's a flip side. Risky strategies do not always come off. And that happened in spades on Saturday night, with Brahms suffering twice. As flawlessly played as the Third Symphony was, the interpretation was a bit routine, rather piecemeal, and just not quite harnessing the dramatic structure and force of the piece.
But the Haydn Variations was worse, with Gergiev never below the surface of the music, which was fast, flippant, and with a near-throwaway, dismissive quality of attitude.
It was almost as though Gergiev had reserved his energies for the explosion of exotic colours and blatant sensualities of Szymanowski's short but monstrous Third Symphony, which received a sensational performance from the LSO, Edinburgh Festival Chorus and tenor Steve Davislim. Poor old Brahms.
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