A slow start with Brahms gives way to Elgar’s emotional riches.
Both works on this program were inspired by holidays in Italy, but neither contains the overt, gelato-infused references of the kind you find in either Mendelssohn’s ItalianSymphony or Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien.
Brahms’ Piano Concerto No 2 started with an elegantly turned horn solo by David Evans, taken up immediately by the soloist, veteran pianist Yefim Bronfman. This performance took a while to touch the heart, with the first two movements sounding a bit routine. The violins had a beautifully unanimous sheen, but there were ensemble problems with the lower strings, sometimes lagging behind in the scherzo, and also later in the Finaleof the Symphony.
David Berlin’s cello solo at the start of the slow movement took the work into chamber music territory, and the affectionate interplay between Berlin and the soloist was tangible. It was here that Bronfman’s finely-tuned musicianship shone through. The orchestral accompaniment was also at its most sensitive in this movement, as well as in the light hearted Finale, which skipped along in a rare display of Brahms’s humorous side. Bronfman’s delicacy of touch provided a welcome contrast to the meaty, granite like chords...