London Symphony Orchestra and Rattle play Genesis suite and Bartók Concerto: good intentions and some good results
Very nice intentions from Simon Rattle programming this forgotten Genesis Suite. And it was intelligent pairing it with a easy and loved work as Bartók concerto for orchestra.
A suite with music by Schoenberg, Shilkret, Tansman, Milhaud, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Toch and Stravinsky looks pretty amazing on the paper. However the suite has some very big problems. Not all the music is so inspired and actually, a lot of if was lost (anything but Shoenberg and Stravinsky) and only reconstructed by Patrick Russ, (and I’m quoting from a not so prominent text in the digital programme) two from still tentative manuscripts and three from severely condensed sketches with only one or two musical lines and only vague instrumentation indications.
The suite was presented as a multimedia experience, but this was quite flawed. Presented around the idea of music of exile the projected images lacked of a conducting idea. Neither the original idea of the suite and the narration (the biblical Genesis) neither any intra-text about the work itself or the composers. They were just a sequence of generic footage of 20th century events and politicians seen many times. The orchestra played well and Rattle did a good job at least presenting the music
The second part of the concert worked pretty much as a rendition: the Bartók concerto for orchestra was delightfully played by the orchestra, showcasing all the wonderful soloist. The work is a Rattle trademark, with his boulezian analytical approach that works very well. I really enjoyed it and I think they can do it even better, that is a good thing.