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Wistful beauty

The Times, Anna Picard

In Britain, though not in Norway, where he has been the chief conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic since 2015, Edward Gardner is best known as the former music director of Glyndebourne Touring Opera and English National Opera, and, most recently, the conductor of Katya Kabanova at Covent Garden. In his performance of Mahler’s Symphony No 1 and Beethoven’s Egmont Overture with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and in his supple accompaniment of Kian Soltani’s reading of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, the pragmatism, sensitivity and ability to shape a long musical argument required of an opera conductor were keenly felt.

Soltani’s sweet, true sound, lyrical phrasing and deft delivery of Elgar’s declamatory statements and wry glissandi made this war-horse concerto coltish. There was fantasy, reflection and humour in his playing, attentively supported by Gardner, the LPO’s outstanding viola section …

… and the wistful beauty of Robert Plane’s clarinet solo.

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