Mendelssohn’s String Symphony in B minor is an ideal ‘warm-up piece,’ and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra under its principal conductor Stefan Vladar began by carefully probing even the dark sides of its adagio, prior to getting down to business in the allegro movement at a lively pace and with perfect dynamic shading.
Then the outstanding Bösendorfer grand piano occupied the center of attention and with it Stefan Vladar as a pianist … Crystal-clear, sparkling runs and flawlessly placed chords along with discreet use of the pedal. It was fascinating to observe how very much the orchestra heeded its conductor/pianist, how above all in the tender adagio an atmosphere verging on the intimacy of chamber music was produced. Availing himself of all the bodily resources at his command, Stefan Vladar succeeded in animating his orchestra to even more nuanced articulation, to the investment of even more pathos in the sumptuous themes of the Adagio cantabile. In the last movement he drove the cellos to saw away for all they were worth and while moving his arms in circles wound up the tempo to the furious concluding stretta with powerfully accentuated final chords. A dazzling finale, a radiant orchestra, an enthusiastic audience – and cheerful and happy hearts and minds everywhere.