Sibelius Symphony No. 2 / Philharmonia / Ashkenazy

Stephen Hough’s Telegraph blog urging us not to shut out the older generation in pursuit of a younger replacement resonated last night during the Philharmonia’s all-Sibelius programme with Vladminir Ashkenazy.

At 77, the conductor demonstrated his enthusiasm for the art, and an enviable energy as he darted on and off the stage to accept some of the applause at the end of last night’s concert at the Festival Hall.

There had been some memorable moments during the first half – the second and fourth movements from the Pelléas et Mélisande excerpts and the Andante Festivo – which were echoed during the symphony in the second half. Ashkenazy may have seemed in a hurry in places, especially during the final movement of the symphony, but his particular attention to extreme dynamic ranges created an electrifying atmosphere.

I was really taken with the sound the Philharmonia’s string section created throughout this concert. A joyous experience reflected in the smiles of the players when the audience applauded. Smiling orchestral players are a rare sight at the end of UK concerts.




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