Discussing how things were going, as they packed up for their lunch break, a group of the Guildhall orchestra players were agreeing with each other that their playing was getting better as the morning progressed.
That’s certainly true and of course not altogether surprising. It doesn’t necessarily follow that their playing would also change from conductor to conductor, that they would be responsive to the varying styles.
It has been, however. I’ve already mentioned a couple of Beethovens: Chan’s incisive version and Rizzi’s, more sweeping take. But with Rafal Janiak in front of them they sounded stately and authoritative (I think I heard him use the word “royal”), while Jonathan Bloxham helped them bring out many details. Or in the Mozart, when the slow opening turns into the main, faster section, they sounded graceful under Jiri Rozen, while they fully responded to Dominic Grier’s wish for a slow speed and veiled sound, helping to create a special effect.
Actually, that was a bit of a risk on his part: the aim was to create a contrast that would allow the loud music to sound extra explosive when the time came. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, of course, and the competitors will be looking for every opportunity to show off their musical ideas. But had he not been allowed to reach that moment (all the candidates are told which passages to rehearse and when to stop) it could have sounded merely a little laboured or held back. Probably not the impression you want to give when the LSO have their eyes on you!