Stravinsky and a New Piano Concerto with the Concertgebouw

You are in Amsterdam at a concert given by one of the world’s great orchestras. Its principal conductor, Mariss Jansons, has cancelled and has been replaced by a young Italian, Gustavo Gimeno, previously better known as the orchestra’s percussionist. The programme includes the Dutch première of a new piano concerto by Magnus Lindberg. You don’t know what to expect.

Well, in the first half, the new work failed to impress, even with the distinguished pianist Yefim Bronfman. Full of tedious runs up and down the keyboard, and much thumping, perhaps it should be dubbed the Hammerklavier Concerto.

After the interval, it was a completely different story. Stravinsky’s wonderful ballet score Jeu de Cartes, with its exciting rhythmic patterns and wispy melodies, was superbly performed.

But the audience reaction? Following the Lindberg, I was the only person who (grumpily) remained seated as there was a standing ovation for the soloist, conductor and composer. Following the Stravinsky, I was about the only one who stood up to applaud. Anyway, we all agreed that the performance of the Fledermaus Overture made for a great finale for the concert. Full marks to the Concertgebouw Orchestra and their Italian discovery who surely has a big future ahead as a conductor.