For what could have been an unfortunate carbon copy of last night’s concert (cross-reference below) this program of Mendelssohn and Schumann had one brightly burning musical light as Enrico Dindo made his début at these concerts.
The nimble cellist tore into Schumann’s concerto with a scintillating tone, incredibly honed bow control and a near note/pitch-perfect performance (only a wayward double stop provided any cause for concern) that, willingly, happily drew Riccardo Chailly and his talented colleagues into Dindo’s view, finally giving the rapt patrons something to truly savour.
The tempo of the opening “Nicht zu schnell” (“not too fast”) was established by the soloist and Chailly, wisely, followed suit, for once abandoning his penchant for pushing the tempo envelope to the breaking point. It did take about five minutes for the often syncopated, brooding accompaniment to settle with the lead, but after that the music mostly moved ahead (and pulled back where required) as one. The transitions into the remaining two movements were appropriately seamless, thanks to Chailly’s extra attentiveness and not a few sideways glances from Dindo to the equally discreet concertmaster.
The wonderful dialogue between soloist and the orchestra’s principal cello was decidedly too nicely-mannered where a few ounces of Dindo’s free-wheeling, yet always controlled, style would have been equally welcome from his orchestral “echo.”
The quasi-orchestrated cadenza was a well-appreciated highlight, twisting and turning at will but always with Schumann’s deft vision leading the fray. The solo-Bach encore was also lovingly crafted and featured a final adieu whose lingering beauty withstood the last measure bronchial ejaculation that a nervous patron (sometimes the really personal moments trigger all manner of coughs or chuckles from those who prefer the superficial pap to real emotion) tossed at the art.
Abandoning the scheduled Papillons (Schumann’s original piano score orchestrated by Karl Aage Rasmussen) and replacing it with Mendelssohn’s invigorating Overture to Ruy Blas became an artistic mirror image with the preceding night’s Trumpet Overture curtain raiser. As enjoyable as it was (Chailly’s near child-like exuberance is hard to ignore), the previous complaint of errant ensemble raised its uncomfortable head again, this time bookend style (the first tutti and the last hurrah both fell distressingly short of unanimity).
I had never imagined laughing during the performance of any Schumann symphony, but the ridiculously silly pace of the Op. 61’s “Scherzo” made one wonder if planking over the rock-water promenade in front of KKL was in preparation for an appearance by Cirque du Soleil. Worse still, the extra speed requested in the coda had a lot of us biting our tongues and not daring to look each other in the eye for fear of erupting into unstoppable guffaws.
More’s the pity as the other movements had much to admire, notably the principal oboe’s—the pride of the woodwinds—splendid contributions in the “Adagio espressivo,” which very much negated the decidedly inexpressive pace. JWR