Great playing but conductor holds Brahms in check
NZSO Brahmissimo! series, October 12-15, Wellington
Reviewer: John Button
DomPost 17 October 2011 (extract)
'There might not have been full halls for this epic series of Brahms concerts but those who came greeted everything with enormous enthusiasm.
So enthusiastic was the response it would be easy to think these Brahms performances were absolute top drawer. Well, in certain respects they were. The orchestra played with superb discipline throughout the whole marathon of four concerts - but was it the playing that caught the ear, rather than the interpretative approach of conductor Pietari Inkinen?....Was it the superb playing of NZSO principal cello Andrew Joyce in the Double Concerto, or Michael Houstoun's blend of power and poetry in the First Piano Concerto that will linger most in the memory?....The Third Symphony opened with such a lack of power that I took a while to recover - although that was nothing compared to the First Piano Concerto. Just how this tempestuous opening shocked German audiences in 1859 would be hard to imagine from this....'
Comment: A conductor friend tells me that Brahms is very difficult to conduct and that young conductors are best to wait. My experience in this concert would confirm that. MH