We're halfway

Another real contrast in styles with conductors numbers three and four in the running order and it came across particularly in the way they approached their respective concertos.

First, Jiri Rozen, content to sit back somewhat in the Sibelius, neat in the way he gave his cues, always in control and conscious of trying to ensure the orchestra fit with the violinist. But did I get the sense that the violinist was looking for more of a response, more connection in the lyrical slow movement, more of an interaction between herself and orchestra?

As for Elim Chan, she really looked to take charge, using quick hands to urge the orchestra on, always looking to avoid lapsing into self-indulgence, even when the soloist is tempted that way. There’s a little passage, just a few bars long, where the cello has a wistful, gently rocking figure that is always taken at a more relaxed speed but Chan wanted the orchestra to keep slightly ahead, as if to contradict the soloist – and they followed her. You got this sense of urgency in the long orchestral opening too, and of someone really grabbing the music and physically handling it. Certainly the most striking bit of conducting so far today, to my mind. Not subtle, but bracing.

Rounding off the morning Gabriele Bebeselea came somewhere between the two, conducting the Sibelius. Again, he could have perhaps interacted more with the violinist, who was watching him consistently throughout (isn’t it supposed to be the other way round?). But he seemed to be listening carefully for detail in the orchestra, not for just detail of orchestration but for those occasional moments when ensemble goes slightly awry – he was quick to notice one section was lagging behind the tempo at one point, and brought them back. That’s the kind of thing that orchestras really rely on for really high class performances.