Friday, September 18, 2015
LSO and Elim Chan at the Barbican
When Elim Chan the young conductor walked on and shook hands with the LSO Leader Roman Simovic who seemed about 2 feet taller than her you began to wonder how she would fare, but she was amazing! They began with an excellent rendition of the Elgar Overture: Cockaigne done with vim and real musicality. It was clear why she was the winner of the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition and it was a great treat. That piece is not easy to play to make it really interesting.
The Yellow River Piano Concerto followed (soloist Haochen Zhang, who I heard at the Proms last year) which was played very well but sounded very much like a piece composed by a collective during the Cultural Revolution, which it was. There was then an excerpt from The Red Lantern done by rising stars from Beijing and a piece for Jinghu with orchestra and some other traditional Chinese instruments, played by Shouping Yan and a female colleague (uncredited) in unison.
Then Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes - again a masterly display of musicianship from Elim Chan and the LSO. These are much deeper pieces than Cockaigne and were beautifully articulated. After tumultuous applause and 3 curtain calls she came back to the podium and with her bare hands conducted a wonderful Nimrod from Enigma Variations which could not have been played or conducted better! Stunned silence and then rapt applause. The final encore which I didn't know was more of a crowd pleaser, and had the audience clapping along at one point.
Elim Chan is clearly a considerable talent, with a great feeling for English music. Maybe she should do the Last Night of the Proms?