Following a rather slow day, having got back to London about midnight from Glyndebourne’s disappointing Rosenkavalier, the evening was given over to the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonidas Kavakos in an all-Beethoven programme at the Barbican. It was just the tonic.
After an ebullient Creatures of Prometheus overture, Kavakos was joined by Tim Hugh (an LSO principal cellist) and Enrico Pace at the piano for the Triple Concerto. Played with warmth and grace, there was no shortage of drama to watch as they played off each other and the orchestra.
After the interval, Kavakos returned to conduct an idiosyncratic performance of the third symphony, Eroica. It looked idiosyncratic as well, with an expressionistic conducting technique – towards the end it looked as though he was beating someone over the head with one hand whilst running them through with his baton in the other. Exploiting extremes of tempo, it meant there was a wealth of detail to tune into in the LSO’s beautiful playing, and the transitions into orchestral climaxes were thrilling. It’s not perhaps an interpretation you’d want to live with permanently, but it crowned a wonderfully uplifting evening’s music-making, and certainly went some way to dispelling the previous evening’s ennui.