It’s not often you get one double concerto in a concert programme, and to get two in one evening is pretty unique. Fortunately, we are blessed with the husband and wife team, Jan Vogler (cello) and Mira Wang (violin), who are in perfect musical harmony under the skilled direction of RSNO conductor, Peter Oundjian. Vogler is artist in residence with the RSNO, and clearly has a big influence in their programming, hence the two double concertos.
The concert begins with the UK premiere of German composer Wolfgang Rihm’s Duo Concerto, written for the duo and first performed by them in 2015. Rihm was apparently taught by Stockhausen, and his work, while not quite as contemporary-sounding as Stockhausen’s, isn’t exactly full of melody either, although it is certainly full of energy. In any case, the audience at the Usher Hall seem to find it hard going.
This is followed by a very different experience, the Brahms Double Concerto, which is full of life and colour, and shows the warm and close relationship between this husband and wife team.
The concert concludes after the interval with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, which brings peace and harmony to the Usher Hall. Of course we have all heard the Pastoral many times, but it never fails to bring pleasure, with its evocations of nature from the brook, through the storm, and the peace and harmony afterwards. The RSNO plays it well under Oundjian, and get a warm response from the Usher Hall audience.
This is a good concert but not a great one. Of course we need to be introduced to new work from time time, but will Rihm’s concerto still be being performed in 100 years’ time?