Can't say no to Beethoven: Pinchas Zuckmern at the Southbank Centre
Beethoven's 'Egmont' Overture, Seventh Symphony and Violin Concerto
Pinchas Zuckerman and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Royal Festival Hall
7 February 2017
Balcony H27, £10
Pinchas Zukerman directed the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a programme of crowd-pleasing Beethoven. I'm as happy to pleased as the next crowd member and so I was – what great music!
If you pushed me I might admit to preferring my Beethoven performed with a little more wildness. It's of course a difficult balance with Beethoven (with anything) and in the past I've been incensed by accounts of the Seventh that outrageously accelerate through the last movement, or bombastic and messy renditions of the Egmont. But, enjoy it through I did, I couldn't help thinking that the RPO under Zukerman were – well, a bit square. On balance I'd prefer that to an impassioned dog's breakfast but it wasn't really a performance to cherish.
Things took off more in the second half with Zukerman in his primary metier. Excitingly, not surprisingly, he sounds just as he does in recordings – clean, sweet, polished, deft, charismatic, charming. All of that. Again, he's more of a matinee idol than a tormented artist but when it's delivered with such insouciant wit and nonchalant perfection I'm not going to complain.
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