The centrepiece of the BSO’s latest Guildhall concert was Elgar’s Cello Concerto, which has one of music’s most challenging openings.
Alone and unsupported, the soloist has a cadenza which immediately must command the hall, and from which the whole performance must follow.
Leonard Elschenbroich proved to be absolutely in command of the situation, going on to lead a performance which did justice to this masterpiece at both its extremes – the dexterity in his precise articulation of the second movement scherzo, and the eloquence of the adagio slow movement, in what must surely be seen as the composer’s war requiem of 1918.
The encore of the Sarabande from Bach’s Third Suite,was equally rewarding. Elgar enjoyed close links with both the other featured composers – Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, beautiful though it is, proved an understated opening to the concert, and despite some beautifully refined playing from the strings, the feeling remained that this is chamber music that doesn’t work so well for larger ensemble.
Elgar played the violin in the British premiere of Dvořák’s Sixth Symphony, and the latter’s famous New World Symphony completed the programme in a well-shaped performance conducted by Christoph König, in which all the orchestral departments were given their opportunities to shine.