Last June, Robert Trevino made his London debut with Mahler’s Third Symphony (replacing Daniel Harding at the LSO). This time he was conducting the London Philharmonic in the Fifth Symphony and accompanying the grandson of Tatiana Nikolaeva in one of the most popular of Piano Concertos.
Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev delivered the opening chords of Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto in a rather striking way, eschewing the extended approach of others. One’s attention was immediately drawn to the enigmatic mood that the twenty-five-year-old engendered. However, upon the entry of the orchestra his contribution was totally lost in the wash of sound: not drowned out, it was more that his playing did not have the power to cut through. As the first movement progressed – with some distinguished orchestral playing – Tarasevich-Nikolaev brought notable lightness of touch and a considerable degree of sensitivity, but when muscularity and bravura were required they were in short supply, and also elsewhere. The slow movement featured lovely strings and Trevino obtained vivid contributions in the zestful Finale. As an encore, Tarasevich-Nikolaev offered ‘Canzona Serenata’ from Medtner’s Opus 38 set of Forgotten Melodies.
In Mahler’s Fifth there were standout accomplishments although, unusually, the violins at times proved a trifle less than reliable. Trevino very successfully projected the tragic nature of the opening movement, but his account of the second denied its vehement nature. As a consequence, the music lost pace and a sense of cohesion began to be in doubt – a tendency that continued into the Scherzo. More successful was the Adagietto, Rachel Masters’s subtle harp conjoined with refined strings, Trevino at-one with the music and he moulded together the disparate elements of the Finale with considerable success, although the sudden speeding up on the home-straight was excessive.