Drama versus delicacy: Gergiev’s Janáček impresses in Prom 9

There is no getting around the fact that Brahms’ Piano Concerto no. 1 in D minor is simply not suited to the vast expanses of the Royal Albert Hall. Rather than composing a showpiece, a chance for the soloist to display their virtuosity, Brahms combines piano and orchestra as equal partners in a symphonic-style structure. Any virtuosic passages in the piano part are not merely crowd-pleasers, but form part of the integral structure. Brahms’ concerto, then, is not a brashly virtuosic piece as other concertos might be. It does not rely on grand orchestration or a soloist’s virtuosity for its effect. The issue with this, however, is that the vastness of the Albert Hall requires performers to project, a task far easier with overtly showy pieces.

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