Concert Reviews: 30 September 2020

The London Philharmonic Orchestra returned to the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall after an absence of six months, launching its autumn season ‘In the Stream of Life’. Principal Conductor Designate Edward Gardner conducted a programme of Widmann, Sibelius and Beethoven, featuring Gerald Finley. 

★★★ Tim Ashley for The Guardian

‘They [Sibelius song cycle: In the Stream of Life] suit Finley down to the ground, and he sings them with understated passion, great warmth of tone and a fastidious sense of line.’

‘Beethoven’s Fifth, meanwhile, was magnificently done. The opening motto was flung out with an edgy defiance, after which Gardner never allowed the tension to relax, pressing through the slow movement with remarkable urgency, and achieving remarkable things in the fiercely exultant finale. Orchestral textures were lean and clear and the playing was tremendous in its ferocious energy and commitment.’

★★★ Neil Fisher for The Times

‘back with a whizzpopping bang’

‘[Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony] unfussily but firmly directed by Gardner, had a volatility that didn’t come at the expense of the inner voices. There was deep tenderness here as well as muscular triumph.’

★★★★ David Nice for The Arts Desk

‘What more to say about the Beethoven? No tricks, just perfect continuity and seemingly “right” tempi, which may have been why the tricky Andante con moto seemed to flow like a river without rocks in the middle, never outstaying its welcome as it often does. Gardner stage-managed pianissimos and crescendos to perfection, and the finale felt like sheer elevated joy, not hard-hitting insistence on victory.’

★★★ Edward Sava-Segal for Bachtrack

‘He conducted everything with the same confidence, ebullient energy and graceful gestures that seem to have been his trademark from the very beginning of his career.’

★★★ Ivan Hewett for The Telegraph

‘this concert made me feel as if a corner has been turned.’

★★★ Richard Fairman for the Financial Times

Even if the world's concert halls had not been shut down, it's unlikely there would have been many better in this Beethoven year’