Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83 Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55

With the opening bars of the Brahms, it was clear that something special was coming from both the London Philharmonic Orchestra and pianist Leif Ove Andsnes. As the first movement unfolded, Andsnes displayed an intelligent musicality that spoke of years of experience. The most noticeable thing about the opening of this concert was how almost three thousand people could sit in complete silence and just listen. Firstly, the sublime quality of the sound that the LPO are capable of producing is breathtaking. Combined with Jurowski, the LSO and Mr. Andsnes, achieving near perfection in timing, technique and intonation, this extraordinary Concerto wielded complete emotional power over the audience.

Andsnes’ technique was faultless, and he used it with extraordinary grace. Jurowski also seemed to possess boundless energy, but it seemed to me that there were timing faults between orchestra and piano. However, both Andsnes and the LPO demonstrated a rare ability to let the music play itself without interference; the cello solo in the third movement had this same subtle quality. This piece just made me want to smile.

After a short interval, the Beethoven symphony started with some uncertainty from the orchestra, largely due to Jurowski leaping up onto the podium, raising his baton to a startled orchestra and starting within a couple of seconds. The accented opening chords were not quite in time and noticeably shaky, and the majority of the first movement was just a fraction sluggish. Gradually, however, this gave way to a very good sound, particularly from the strings, and good musical clarity. Unfortunately, the orchestra were not as vibrant as they were in the Brahms, and this was particularly evident in the first movement.

Jurowski however remained full of life, showing great energy and passion for the music. The oboe, flute and clarinet solos interacted with each other quite effectively, and these along with the French horn solos were nicely lyrical and displayed a fantastic sound. The second movement, the funeral march, was performed with even more musicality; the LPO demonstrated their aforementioned ability to let the music play itself, and all sense of self - consciousness fell away to reveal the full emotional enormity of the second movement, and the scale of the change between it and the first movement. Not only was the emotion conveyed, but it was clearly felt by the orchestra and Jurowski.

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The third and fourth movements, however, were less exciting; the Allegro lost its liveliness and so did the orchestra. It was not all bad, though; Jurowski, having kept the orchestra on a tight leash throughout the third movement, allowed them to have their heads for the fourth, particularly at the end, at last releasing the full force of his brass in the form of six very impressive (and very loud) French horns.

Overall, this was an impressive performance from Jurowski, Andsnes and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, who did full justice to both pieces.

By Jay Richardson, age 13.

Jay attended a concert at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London on 30th October 2010 performed by Vladamir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Leif Ove Andsnes, piano.