LSO / John Adams / Jeremy Denk and Céleste Boursier-Mougenot - Barbican, 11 March 2010
A noted conductor recently shared with me the secret of steering a top-notch orchestra through the standards. And here it is.
"I stand in front of them and try not to disturb them too much". (Yup, srsly.)
That appears to be the John Adams approach too. His beat is neat, his boogie footwork perhaps a little disconcerting, but his presence barely seemed to register. The LSO played professionally and accurately, but Adams was too willing for the bouchées of Thursday night's intelligently-crafted first half to speak for themselves, and results were mixed.
Colin Matthews's imaginative orchestrations of a couple of Debussy Préludes (Le vent dans la plaine and Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest), revel in emphatically unpianistic sounds - a whooshing portamento here, an endless violin sostenuto there. Adams's hands-off approach lent clarity to the kaleidscopic coloration. Sadly, Ravel's Valses Nobles et Sentimentales were anything but. And despite the efficiency of the LSO, only the forthright perspective of piano soloist Jeremy Denk salvaged Stravinsky's Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments from blandness.