The Philharmonia Orchestra
The Anvil, Basingstoke
14th October 2008
A concert, not completely to my taste, from the Philharmonia Orchestra, this time under Sir Charles Mackerras. An elderly gentleman who needs a little physical support but absolutely nothing in the way of help with style. A style that is easy and graceful with occasional flourishes of panache. And doesn't he enjoy his job!
They started with Haydn's Symphony no. 104 (London), for me the best piece of the evening, beautifully played. After that it got a bit emotional; Alfred Brendel, in his last British concert, played Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 9 (Jeunehomme). Now I don't like piano music and I don't like Mozart and the piece was inappropriate given Brendel's 77 years so it wasn't really surprising that I nodded off, but the rest of the audience appeared to be enraptured and the applause that burst out, standing ovation, the works, when the piece came to an end was obviously not only an appreciation of the man's life and work but also this particular performance. Three times he returned to be greeted by the same terrific applause eventually he sat back down at the keyboard and started to play - even I enjoyed that piece (I learnt later it was Schubert's Impomptu, beautiful, and much more to my taste). More thunderous applause took us into the interval.
For me it was a disappointing second half, maybe it was the anti-climax, but Dvorak's Symphony no. 8 was flat and uninteresting, the playing was sound enough, Mackerras was almost spritelike, but all those Central European tunes just meandered around, lifeless.
So, for me, it was a disappointing concert, but I was in a minority in that audience.