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Royal Albert Hall, London

Brahms wrote two piano concertos, which offer riches enough for most pianists. But not for Dejan Lazic, who has long had an eye on the Violin Concerto and has now made his own piano transcription of the solo part. Teamed with the BBC Philharmonic and conductor Vassily Sinaisky for its UK premiere, Lazic played with the conviction of a believer; it's a skilful arrangement of music that, after all, would probably survive transcription on to a kazoo. But the effect was to take a fire-breathing beast of a concerto and render it tame.

In the original, the violin always comes out fighting; passages such as the three-note chords in the first movement sound thrillingly belligerent, partly because they take so much effort to play. Here, they sat politely and neatly in the middle of the keyboard. Some passages worked better than others, and perhaps surprisingly the third movement came off best. But if this performance proved anything it was that this work's most distinctive material – the rough stuff, the edginess that makes it a masterpiece – is uniquely well suited to an instrument with four strings, not 230. Schumann's Freundliche Landschaft showcased a delicacy of touch the Brahms hadn't revealed, but sounded throwaway even for an encore.

Brief but welcome rarities sandwiched the Brahms. In Bridge's Rebus Overture, a crisp little opening idea is transformed into something of lush, optimistic grandeur. Holst's Invocation for cello and orchestra would have benefited from a more introspective soloist than Julian Lloyd Webber, but its climax in a starburst of trumpet and glittering strings was magical. The Serenata from Britten's First Cello Suite made a quirky encore, Lloyd Webber's plucked cello sounding like a big twangy guitar.

Finally, the orchestra showed its mettle in Elgar's Enigma Variations, a big-boned account culminating in a driven finale that, if not exactly subtle, was certainly joyous.

Tweet your reviews

The Guardian's team of critics will be reviewing every Prom this year and we'd love to hear your verdict, too. Every Prom will be broadcast live on Radio 3, or via the Proms website (you can also listen again for up to seven days after each concert). Send us your thoughts on the comments thread under each review, or tweet your reviews using hashtag #gdnproms. We'll collect the best together in a weekly blog on guardian.co.uk/music

Rating: 3/5

Erica Jeal
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

5 years ago | | Read Full Story
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