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Robert Beale - Manchester Evening News

Friday 7 November 2008

THE Halle's first ever principal guest conductor, Cristian Mandeal, has brought some thrilling and inspiring evenings to the Bridgewater Hall since his appointment and this visit lived up to them.

He is the kind of conductor for whom nothing is ever routine even as familiar a piece as Beethoven's sixths symphony ( though there was the novelty, in this case, that they were using the new scholarly edition for the first time).

The concert began with one of Smetana 's Ma Vlast tone poems: Sarka. It's a Halloweeny sort of piece , about a beautiful warrior maiden and her followers who lure good soldiers to a terrible fate. He delivered its gory denouement with unabashed relish.

Then a complete contrast: the serene and meditative Radu Lupu as solo pianist in Bartok's third concerto.
He is a spell-binder, and the central "religioso' movement, with its atmosphere of prayer and its nature sound and birdsong, was a rich partnership of soloist, orchestral soloists and conductor.

There's a link, of course, with the Beethoven - which has its own nature music and birdsong. The remarkable thing was Mandeal's choice of speed : the opening characterized by near-dancing cheerfulness ( as I'm sure Beethoven intended), the second movement a particularly brisk amble in the countryside and yet masterfully relaxed, the country gathering quite sedate.

The storm was a high-impact meteorological event ( with the full orchestra and modern timpani it could hardly fail to be ), and the finale articulated with emphasis, clarity and elation. It was both surprising and, in total, uplifting.

Date of Concert: Thursday 6 November 2008

Luxemburg, 2006

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