The Mum­bai Con­certs

BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral Reviews -

Beethoven: Vi­o­lin Con­certo;

Brahms: Dou­ble Con­certo;

Dvoˇrák: Car­ni­val Over­ture;

Ravel: La Valse; Daph­nis et Chloé – Suite No. 2; J Strauss II: Die Fle­d­er­maus Over­ture; Tchaikovsky:

Pi­ano Con­certo No. 1 (DVD) Pin­chas Zuk­er­man (vi­o­lin), Amanda Forsyth (cello), De­nis Mat­suev (pi­ano); Is­rael Phil­har­monic Orches­tra/zu­bin Me­hta

Ac­cen­tus Mu­sic ACC20383

199:23 mins (2 discs)

Zu­bin Me­hta re­turned to his birth­place for these two 80th-birth­day con­certs in Mum­bai’s Na­tional Cen­tre for the Per­form­ing Arts – a su­per­sump­tu­ous mod­ern au­di­to­rium, with an acous­tic that’s com­fort­ably warm while al­low­ing an amaz­ing amount of de­tail to come across. Me­hta is age­ing in fine style: the con­trol and pre­ci­sion of his con­duct­ing re­main phe­nom­e­nal, yet there is none of the sports car gearchang­ing which, in ear­lier vin­tages, he of­ten seemed un­able to re­sist.

Each con­cert has a short opener: Dvo ák’s Car­ni­val and Jo­hann Strauss’s Die Fle­d­er­maus over­ture. The first con­cert con­tin­ues with Beethoven’s Vi­o­lin Con­certo, played by Zuk­er­man with a gloss-free mas­tery as im­mense as it is un­fussy, graced with a prin­ci­pal bas­soon­ist (so im­por­tant in this work) of near-fab­u­lous mu­si­cian­ship.

Me­hta al­lows him­self a mo­ment of show­boat­ing when, in the fi­nale, he does a kind of re­v­erse turn from the first vi­o­lins on his left to the sec­onds on his right by way of fac­ing the au­di­ence; it takes a while for Zuk­er­man to stop grin­ning ir­re­press­ibly. In an all-ravel se­cond half, the orches­tra’s stel­lar de­liv­ery of Daph­nis et Chloé Suite No. 2 has Me­hta con­jur­ing a beau­ti­fully sen­si­tive ac­com­pa­ni­ment to the flute’s big solo. The en­core, the Swan Lake waltz, is so ex­cit­ingly played that if you were danc­ing to this, you’d surely end up get­ting air­borne.

The se­cond con­cert doesn’t hit such heights. Zuk­er­man is joined by Amanda Forsyth in Brahms’s Dou­ble Con­certo, which comes across as rather too hec­tor­ing and tur­bocharged. De­nis Mat­suev’s vast vir­tu­os­ity scin­til­lates in Tchaikovsky’s First Pi­ano Con­certo, but his im­pro­vised en­core, an amaz­ing feat in it­self, re­duces pro­ceed­ings to some­thing of a cir­cus. His and the orches­tra’s ren­di­tion of ‘Happy Birth­day’ to Me­hta would have done nicely by it­self. Mal­colm Hayes PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★

RECORD­ING ★★★★★

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