Dorking Concertgoers Society presents the London Philharmonic Orchestra

01.21.09
Marin Alsop, Jonathan Biss
This is Surrey Today (UK)

Marin Alsop conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert dedicated to the memory of John Usher who died last year. Together with the young American pianist Jonathan Biss this was a dazzling performance from orchestra and soloist.

The concert opened with a stately and measured performance of Brahms Variations on a theme by Haydn.

Balance was maintained by sensitive playing in the wind section coupled with the mellow tone produced by the cellos and double basses.

The strings added further impetus as the tempo increased. There were shades of light and dark emphasised by the haunting flute.

Complicated harmonies were heard smoothly weaving their way towards conclusion with power and sweetness of tone.

In Mozart's Piano Concerto No.22 in E flat, the delicate introduction formed a prelude to fine spirited playing. The effortlessly gliding cadences demonstrated how artist and instrument were in harmony, with the orchestra underpinning throughout.

This was a flamboyant performance with piano and orchestra emphasising the dramatic beauty of the piece. The orchestra led into the andante with measured pace. There was some exquisite clarinet playing as the piano returned with insistency, before completing the movement with a dreamlike quality of ethereal sound.

Brahms's 4th Symphony opened with the strings surging ahead making an impact before being followed by the lyrical refrain from the wind instruments. Their colourful yet precise playing conveyed majesty, helped in no small way by the gusty trumpets.

Non Troppo was adhered to by the conductor, in particular the strings negotiated their complicated passage with verve and finesse, which Marin Alsop coaxed out of her players with great delicacy.

The big sound so often can be hammered and lose its identity, but the London Philharmonic possesses the ability to produce great sounds without sacrificing quality and emotion.

The overriding feeling was one of energy, coupled with plaintive wind playing, almost like a supplication to the heavens. The strings replied with firmness and vigour restating Brahms's melancholic message - aptly naming the piece "Tragic".