Of course, compelling performances are what make a program, and this one came off just fine. As one of Europe's more interesting conductors, Krivine can be counted upon for fairly personal performances, which is what's needed for the problematic. Lacking the proper thematic invention to sustain its delusions of Wagnerian grandeur, Franck's symphony usually gets fast tempos and sharp edges in hopes that its Gothicism will carry the piece.
Instead, Krivine expansively allowed long rhetorical pauses between musical paragraphs, which didn't shine a glaring light on the piece's inadequacies but rather, in the first movement, revealed chamber music-like interludes that other performances rush by. The second lacked the thematic strength to support this approach, but the third regained the piece's momentum, and the orchestra played superbly.
Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra can seem like the least of his concertos, but it made a smashing impression with Krivine's tight control over its sprawling musical references - cabaret music, silent-film scores, bits of Mozart - plus emphasis on its gutsy percussion. Also, the two-piano sister duo Christina and Michelle Naughton took the opposite tack of the better-known Labeque Sisters, playing with great sensitivity and nuanced interplay between their two instruments. Both were so captivating, one would want to hear them individually.
The famous transcription of Bach's Toccata and Fugue that ended the concert wasn't sensitive, nuanced, or thoughtful in the least, and wouldn't have been a bit of fun if it had been. Of course Krivine knew that. In Europe, he gives historically informed readings of romantic-era repertoire, and was able to do this concert with minimum guesswork, since it was, truly, an original-instrument performance.
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