Written in Paris in the 1920s, the motoric concerto chunters along irresistibly, exactly in the style of Bach’s Third Brandenburg Concerto, but with a wicked smile on its face and an alluring raise of its eyebrow. Even when Martinu goes a-wandering, as he does, the music is never less than endearing.
Then Lane, having stolen the show once, set about doing it twice with a hilarious, roof-raising encore in the form of Dudley Moore’s outrageous and stylistically immaculate pastiche of Beethoven on the subject of the allegedly singular anatomical attribute of der Fuhrer. The house collapsed with laughter.
The rest of the concert was not quite so irresistible. Janacek’s ballad The Fiddler’s Child is as packed with incident as any of his unique music. It has everything, from the rhapsodic music of the solo violinist (Elizabeth Layton) to the stark interjections from the strings, the reiterated phrases, the violent interruptions and the strong, soulful lyricism of the composer’s native folk music.
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There is a hidden line that unites the piece, but conductor Petr Altrichter didn’t find it, leaving us with a mosaic structure; and in Dvorak’s great and indestructible Eighth Symphony, Altrichter’s four-square sense of pacing and rhythm (which I have heard from him before) left us with a well-enough-played account, but one that lacked lilt, lift and life. The music should blaze with colour and optimism: this just simmered, and no more.
Star rating: ****