Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Have you been to a concert somewhere in the world recently? Share your thoughts with us about the performance, the more details the better!

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Philip M
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Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by Philip M » Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:39 pm

The LSO’s new season started last Saturday with a programme of 20th and 21st Century works (including Belshazzar’s Feast) and was followed on Sunday with Messiaen’s Éclairs sur l’Au-delà... The 3rd programme given on Wednesday and repeated last night - I attended the repeat.

Two big works - so typical of Rattle. Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto filled the first half, with Emanuel Ax as the soloist. I am afraid Ax never moves me. It’s all very carefully prepared and thought out, but there’s no spontaneity, no passion. Rattle was on outstanding form, with the LSO playing gloriously. What struck me was the way that Rattle balanced the various orchestral voices, allowing the inner voices to be clearly heard. And he took great care to ensure that there was the right balance between piano and the orchestra. The cello solo was superbly played by Tim Hugh - who is shortly to leave the orchestra to take up a position at Covent Garden. He joined Ax for the encore - the slow movement from the Chopin Sonata.

Incidentally the performance of the same concerto that Rattle gave in February 1987 in Birmingham Town Hall with André Watts was in a different league. Quite the finest performance of it that I have heard live.

The second half was Rachmaninov’s 2nd Symphony, which I heard these forces give some 3 weeks ago in Edinburgh. This was a better performance, full of drive and energy, with a very wide dynamic range. The slow movement employed long lines, with superb clarinet playing from Chris Richards. Both works were conducted from memory, by the way.

In his latest attempt to get the best out of the Barbican’s problematic acoustics, Rattle placed the 8 double basses across the back of the stage, on an elevated platform. It certainly helped, but the acoustics were still significantly worse than the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. I know at least some members have experienced the Barbican acoustic first hand - I met John F there in 2011 when Rattle conducted the LSO in Messiaen’s Et Expecto (with the huge ‘Stockhausen’ gong!) and Bruckner 9.

One other interesting point for discussion: the men in the orchestra had a change of clothing from the usual concert attire. Most wore a black shirt, fastened to the top, with dark grey trousers and no jacket. But some opted for a great suit and a white shirt, again buttoned to the top. There was one exception though - Tim Hugh elected for an open neck white shirt, grey trousers and a dark grey leather jacket!

Philip

John F
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by John F » Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:04 pm

Yes, Philip, that was an exceptional Bruckner 9 (3 movement version). The main thing I remember about the Messiaen is how loud it was. For all its faults, the Barbican doesn't mute an orchestra's sound; a Shostakovich Leningrad Symphony there by the LSO and Mariss Jansons got so loud it hurt my ears physically, no fooling. Anyway, the new concert hall can't be finished too soon, and I just hope they don't botch its acoustics too.
John Francis

Philip M
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by Philip M » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:59 am

Yes, loud but constricted 😥

If you ever come over again, do try Symphony Hall!

John F
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by John F » Sat Sep 21, 2019 3:47 am

I'm afraid my traveling days are over. It's my legs - I can only walk short distances now and more than a couple of stairs are too much for me. Hey, I'm 78! But I have memories of many happy times in London and England, going back to 1956-7 when my family lived in Leeds and my father was doing dialect research for the university's dialect atlas.
John Francis

Philip M
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by Philip M » Sat Sep 21, 2019 3:48 pm

Sorry to hear of your ailments, John, but we all get older 😥

Incidentally, Donald Dean (who sadly died 3 years ago aged 90) said that he was at RFH in 1960 when Mravinsky and the Leningrad PO played Shostakovich 8. He was sat behind Menuhin and Donald said that at the climaxes Menuhin put his hands over his ears!!!

Philip

lennygoran
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by lennygoran » Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:49 pm

Philip M wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 3:48 pm
Incidentally, Donald Dean (who sadly died 3 years ago aged 90)

Philip
Philip so sorry to hear this-one time Donald told us a story in the CS forum but alas I forgot the exact details-something about taking care of a child and I thought it involved Shostakovich or a relative of Shostakovich? Maybe you know the details? Regards, Len

Philip M
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by Philip M » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:26 pm

Sorry don’t recall that.

Donald’s mother was seamstress to Chaliapin!

lennygoran
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by lennygoran » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:14 am

Philip M wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:26 pm
Sorry don’t recall that.
Philip thanks-I think I am confused on that-I was thinking that he may have had to bring some child related to Shostakovich back to England or someplace-my memory is probably playing tricks on me. Regards, Len

John F
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by John F » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:47 am

I half-remember that Donald was hostile toward Mstislav Rostropovich for his treatment of a pupil who may have been Donald's son, if he had one. How much there actually was in it I don't know, and I may be misremembering.
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by lennygoran » Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:29 am

John F wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:47 am
I half-remember that Donald was hostile toward Mstislav Rostropovich for his treatment of a pupil who may have been Donald's son, if he had one. How much there actually was in it I don't know, and I may be misremembering.
John that may be it! Regards, Len

Philip M
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by Philip M » Mon Sep 23, 2019 3:53 pm

Donald had 2 sons - I met them both. But neither of them was a musician....

Rach3
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by Rach3 » Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:07 pm

Philip M wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:39 pm
I am afraid Ax never moves me. It’s all very carefully prepared and thought out, but there’s no spontaneity, no passion.
Largely agree,fww. Although, his recent LvB 4th PC with Haitnik,VPO, in Haitnik's last concerts have been great , at least the one I heard from 2019 Salzburg Festival.

Rach3
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by Rach3 » Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:09 pm

Rach3 wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:07 pm
Philip M wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:39 pm
I am afraid Ax never moves me. It’s all very carefully prepared and thought out, but there’s no spontaneity, no passion.
Largely agree,fww. Although, his recent LvB 4th PC with Haitnik,VPO, in Haitnik's last concerts have been great , at least the one I heard from 2019 Salzburg Festival.
Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUYvvB6ZCgk

John F
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by John F » Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:43 pm

Philip M wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 3:53 pm
Donald had 2 sons - I met them both. But neither of them was a musician....
Maybe then it was about a young cellist he knew.
John Francis

Philip M
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by Philip M » Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:42 am

Donald’s son, David, arranged for his unfinished autobiography to be published just after his death. You might want to read it!


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Bits-My-A ... oks&sr=1-8

John F
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Re: Ax Rattle LSO at Barbican

Post by John F » Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:59 am

How about that! I think I will.
John Francis

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