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Liadov, Rachmaninov and Copland

Liadov: The Enchanted Lake, op.62 (1909)

Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 4 in G minor, Op.40 (1926 rev 1941)

Copland: Symphony No 3 (1944/1946)

Leif Ove Andsnes – piano, London Symphony Orchestra, Antonio Pappano


Barbican Hall – 29 April 2010


Quite why Liadov’s delightful orchestral pieces aren’t heard in concert is a mystery. The Enchanted Lake was given a gentle and subtle performance, as befits its winsomeness. It made a lovely start to a concert which was mainly concerned with drama and brightly coloured textures.


Rachmaninov’s 4th Concerto is a fine piece, as masterly as his other four works for piano and orchestra. With such persuasive advocacy as Andsnes' this evening it should have made many new friends. Especially enjoyable was the middle movement, with its main theme (reminiscent of Two Lovely Black Eyes !), beautifully restrained until the crashing climax which exploded into the hall as the emotional core of the work. The outer movements were graced by Andsnes’s refusal to play as if virtuosity was everything; he brought out the lyrical side to great effect. With excellent support from the LSO and Pappano, this was a magnificent performance.


Copland’s large scale 3rd Symphony embraces both his populist style and the terser, more atonal, voice he adopted from the Piano Quartet onwards; a work with great tunes, brilliant orchestration and a cogent argument, interrupted at points of stress by jarring, dissonant climaxes. It’s built, and cleverly too, on the Fanfare for the Common Man, which opens and closes the finale, and Copland wrings every ounce of expression and meaning he can from his earlier composition. Pappano played the work as an extrovert piece, full of life and sparkling with joy. Even the slow movement is only slightly introverted. My one complaint was that Pappano observed the cut Bernsteinuse to mae in the coda.


A fine concert with much to enjoy and lots of consider, not least why these three works aren’t heard more often in the concert hall.


Bob Briggs