Daytona Beach International Festival
Through May 3 at
Daytona Beach venues
The London Symphony Orchestra won Sunday's (April 26) double standing ovations the old-fashioned way: with a flawless, fascinating program.
The only problem with the concert, the second in the Daytona Beach International Festival's classical series, was that Peabody Auditorium appeared, at best, only about half-full. Still, the audience made up for its small size with enthusiastic approval, standing after the first of the concert's two Viennese M's (Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp; 1778) and leaping to its feet and roaring bravos after the second (Mahler's Symphony No. 1, "The Titan"; 1889).
In every way, it was a memorable performance, and one that showcased the LSO's full, remarkable range. Standouts in the concerto were LSO harpist Bryn Lewis, whose crisp notes seemed to dance with fellow LSO soloist Gareth Davies' flute, led with balletic grace by conductor Daniel Harding. Languid, almost whispered in the gentle andantino, then swaying in the rondo, the flute and harp's exquisite dialogue radiated the work's essential refinement.
Just as exquisite was Mahler's "Titan," despite its very different textures and tones. The orchestra expanded to the stage's edges for the explosively romantic symphony, permitting the soft, glimmering woodland notes of its atmospheric first movement to blow up into a tempest in the last. The effect was galvanic: When the LSO, reacting instantly to Harding's slightest gesture, dug in for that symphonic outburst, it felt as if a wall of sound rolled across the audience, almost concussive.
And then, in a finale that was reminiscent of Mozart's burnished classicism but that also restated Mahler's mossy, misty opening motif, the storm ended and the volume modulated to a pulsating lyricism that underlined the concert's absolute virtuosity, in the best sense of the word. Brilliant, supple and lithe, this second classical program was a triumph.