The London Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor – Fabien Gabel
Violin – Fanny Clamagirand
Weber – Oberon Overture
Mendelssohn – Violin Concerto
Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending
Sibelius – Symphony No. 5
Saturday 17 March 2012, Brighton Dome.
Sunday 25 March 2012, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra were back in Brighton this weekend with an enjoyable programme, including two concerto works for the violin. They repeat the same programme next Sunday over in Eastbourne.
Now in her late twenties, French violinist Fanny Clamagirand is already a veteran performer on the international stage, and has won many awards and plaudits for her recording of the Saint-Saëns Violin Concertos. This made it all the more surprising that she performed both the Mendelssohn and the Vaughan Williams with music. Whilst I suspect this is more of a security blanket than a necessity (although she did follow the score very closely in the last movement of the Mendelssohn), it is a shame, as it did slightly get in the way of her communication with both the orchestra and the audience. However, her performances of both works were highly accomplished, and she showed admirable sensitivity and restraint with some beautiful pianissimo playing – a slight shame that the orchestra, under the direction of Fabien Gabel, did not always match this dynamic, verging on drowning out the soloist once or twice. Conversely, the last movement of the Mendelssohn could have done with an injection of a little more energy and power. Not always secure in intonation at the very top of the fingerboard, she nevertheless nailed the rising figurations in The Lark Ascending, captivating the audience once again with her lightness of touch. A very talented performer, perhaps just not fully at home in this repertoire.
The orchestra preceded the Mendelssohn with a rather workaday rendition of Weber’s Oberon Overture. Once into their stride, this was enjoyable enough, but the ensemble was a little scrappy to start with. It was only in the final work of the programme, Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony, that there was a sense of real engagement and enjoyment in their playing. The Sibelius is still very much core repertoire, but there is just that bit more for orchestral players to get their teeth into here, and it showed. Fabien Gabel equally seemed more at home here, and their combined energy levels lifted appropriately as the symphony progressed towards its triumphant finale. The final six hammer-blow chords were dashed off rather cursorily for my liking, but otherwise, this was a great performance.
(see this review in GScene magazine)