Friday, 9 August 2013

Mitsuko Uchida Prom 33 Jansons Berlioz

Mitsuko Uchida made BBC Prom 33 a sure-fire sell-out. She's a  Living National Treasure whose sheer presence puts everyone else into perspective. Amazingly, she hasn't played a Prom in 20 years though she plays everywehere else, and sometimes in smaller houses when she has something special to contribute. The BBC should be booking her years in advance then picking conductors and rep around her.

So I blissed out at Uchida's Beethoven Piano Concerto no 4. Some people grind themselves into a tizz about details of fingering and so on, but I listen for musicality in the broadest, deepest sense. So I luxuriated in the sheer joy of Uchida's playing and in the obvious pleasure with which she interacted with Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Serious music can be many things. Uchida shows how it can be expressed, intelligently in many ways. Someone who should know better once sneered that "fun" should never come into the consideration of music. That's nonsense, I think.

Uchida has never struck me as being a Berlioz kind of person, so I had to shift mental gears for the second part of the Prom when Jansons conducted the Symphonie fantastique. Perhaps some of the Uchida persona glowed over this, like a shining sunset. Sometimes Berlioz works best when he's done with a dash of vulgarity. The Symphonie fantastique needs a bit of gross, in-your-face bravado to highlight its audacious inventiveness.  Jansons and the BRSO were a bit too civilised, though enjoyable enough on a nice summer evening.

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