Eschewing an overture or short opening piece, a regrettable feature of too many concerts today, it was straight into Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto. The opening was promising, Daniil Trifonov’s first notes impressively poised if deliberate, the Concerto’s initial minutes unfolded with consideration and grace, a sense of fantasy, and with some beguiling woodwind solos (one from the clarinettist was missed though, the camera caught him shaking his head and also Jansons's look of surprise). The music was certainly dreamy if lacking propulsion and progress became all-too somnambulant. One could admire Trifonov for not showing off or pumping dynamics, and if he was clearly absorbed into the music, mercurial it was not. The following ‘Intermezzo’, for all its rapture, also suffered from lethargy, made more apparent given the sluggish handling of the first movement. Fortunately the Finale was sprightly and shapely, lightly nuanced, and with delightful interplay between pianist and orchestra. Trifonov’s encore was exceptionally lovely and transporting, played so poetically, an arrangement of the slow movement of Chopin's Cello Sonata: even without the string instrument it was quite something, a rapt meditation.
Mariss Jansons conducted Bruckner’s Fourth, Seventh and Ninth Symphonies in Amsterdam and brought them to London with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in April 2014. His Berliner Philharmoniker account of No.6 was generally impressive. The first movement had thrust, tempos classically aligned, majestic in expression if not tempo and thus avoiding any sense of pomposity that this composer is sometimes accused of. Refinement, discretion of dynamics, burnished timbre and incisive attack hallmarked this opener, matching Jansons’s lucid baton or expressively moulding hands; the coda glinted like the best-cut diamonds. The Adagio is the heart of the Sixth Symphony, so eloquent here, and not just the oboe solos, achingly beautiful, a cathedral-like hush created at times, Jansons immersed in the music’s wonderment and feeling it deeply. The Scherzo – quick, buoyant and dance-like, spectral in detailing – bookended the quirky Trio led by pizzicatos and horns before distilling pastoral benediction; and the Finale was fleet and determined if a little indulged at times, brass chorales and, what came across here as woodland interludes, a little disconnected from the rest of the movement, but there was no doubting Jansons’s soul is profoundly within Bruckner’s music. A slight broadening of pace for the conclusion set the seal on the Symphony arriving at journey’s end and also on an invigorating and, during the slow movement, saintly account.