Jean Sibelius: The Swan of Tuonela (from Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22/2)
Edvard Grieg: Piano Concerto, Op. 16
Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Symphony #5, Op. 64
Alice Sara Ott, piano
National Orchestra of Belgium/Stefan Blunier
Brussels, Centre for Fine Arts, 23 November 2012
In the Meet & Greet that preceded the performance, Swiss-born conductor Stefan Blunier pointed out how difficult it is to start a concert with Sibelius’ Swan of Tuonela. That was unfortunately proven true in this concert with the National Orchestra of Belgium on the next to the last day of the Brussels Bozar Marathon Week. The program was dubbed “Strong musical stories”. Strong they may have been, but the stories sounded surprisingly similar in Blunier’s hands. Leading a massive orchestra for Sibelius’ Swan, Blunier opted for a slow pace but remained more analytical than atmospheric and allowed far too outspoken contrasts and brusque interruptions of orchestral sections (especially brass and bass drum). The cor anglais made a commendable contribution but he was too prominent as if it was his concerto and a swifter tempo would have saved him from some uncomfortable moments. The violins, massed to the left, sounded rather cold, yet the lower strings created an impressive sonority.
Read the full review on Classical Net