Vladimir JurowskiHis prom with the London Philharmonic was his last concert as chief conductor of the orchestra, and whether by accident or on purpose, his program, which was largely music of the 20th century, ended. Jurowski was radical in his innovative planning and determination to redefine the parameters of the repertoire: the symphony, which premiered in 1934, and its material Hindemith’s opera about the life of Matthias Grünewald, makes a strong demand to maintain artistic integrity by remaining steadfastly true to its vision.
Attentive to the mixture of severity, beauty and tension of the symphony, Jurowski conducted with extraordinary fervor and intensity. The textures were clear and warm, with a wonderful shimmer in the string chords that introduce the visionary angelic concerto at the beginning, the woodwinds balanced in the sad central burial and yet mourning, the brass sparkles with assertiveness in the final perforation, which sweeps away the expressionistic horror the climatic temptation of St. Anthony. It was an exceptionally fine achievement.
His accompaniment pieces were Stravinsky‘s Jeu de Cartes and Walton’s Cello Concerto together with Friedrich Goldmann’s 1977 orchestration of Brook‘s Goldberg Canons: effective additions to the Goldberg Variations, they weren’t discovered until 1975 when Bach’s manuscript came to light in a private collection in France. Goldmann makes no attempt to imitate baroque line-ups, and ironically, his arrangement for modern instruments sounds more Hindemith than Bach in some places, although it was executed with admirable clarity and grace.
Stravinsky’s poker game ballet, with its allusions to Tchaikovsky and Rossini, was thoroughly cheeky wit and precision. Steven Isserlis, the soloist at Walton, played with considerable virtuosity and sophistication, although neither he nor Jurowski could hide the fact that the last movement of the work, called theme and improvisations, is disturbingly episodic.
When the concert ended, Jurowski was presented with the Royal Philharmonic Society’s gold medal in recognition of his work, a highly deserved honor.