“Beer and beard”: Barenboim’s ruminative Brahms with the Bolívars

Brahms: Daniel Barenboim; Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela/ Gustavo Dudamel **

Royal Festival Hall, 17th January 2016

It was Paul Dukas who dismissed Brahms’ music as “too much beer and beard”. He would have had a field day with this concert, which saw Daniel Barenboim play not one, but both piano concertos. Each is longer than any of his symphonies. Performing both in the same concert is folly, yet Barenboim has form. In 2005, he even gave both concertos in the same programme twice in the same weekend at the Barbican. But Barenboim’s desire to emphasise the epic qualities resulted in turgid accounts, not just “beer and beard” but something more sedate, as if Brahms was emerging from his favourite pub, The Red Hedgehog, after a satisfying pint or two.

Daniel Barenboim and Gustavo Dudamel at the RFH © Belinda Lawley

Daniel Barenboim and Gustavo Dudamel at the RFH
© Belinda Lawley

Read the full review on Bachtrack.

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