Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Ravel, Couperin & Beethoven

Ravel Le Tombeau de Couperin
Couperin Les Concerts Royaux

Beethoven Violin Concerto

Arensky Chamber Orchestra/William Kunhardt/Jennifer Pike

Queen Elizabeth Hall, 7 May 2013

A distinguished debut at South Bank of a group enjoyed at Cadogan Hall [R].

The most memorable part of this concert was the interlacing of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin and Couperin’s Les Concerts Royaux ‘for unspecified instruments’.

That worked perfectly, maintaining rapt attention, undisturbed by applause, throughout a sequence comprising the first half of the concert.

Rehearsed thoroughly by the young William Kunhardt, who showed himself a worthy Principal Conductor, the group shows an innovative flair; rather similar to that of Nicholas Conlon's Aurora Orchestra, which began modestly at RAM and has achieved a niche in London's concert life.

The Arenskys play standing, which made for a splendid picture on the QEH platform, sadly denied a photo by a SouthBankCentre rule which has become increasingly anachronistic now that cameras are silent and flash is unnecessary.

They all, including the conductor, stayed immobile in position whilst a small group of soloists played the Couperin movements - no regrets that this was not a period ensemble with harpsichord. The two composers enhanced the effect of each other's music. With a dozen or more microphones, a CD must be anticipated - but a DVD would be more special, with the visual aspects of the occasion at QEH given careful attention.

Jennifer Pike gave a sterling account of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, which benefitted from a smaller strings body than usual in symphony concerts, making the contribution of the winds sound stronger than one is used to.

I was not enthused by the gimmickry introduction of a ‘reimagining’ of Beethoven's Heiligenstadt Testament, with an actor & muted strings...

It was fully explained in the programme notes and is readily available on the internet in facsimile and modern legible transcription.

In the circumstances without photos, I am left with it for illustration...

Peter Grahame Woolf