United Kingdom Debussy, Ravel, Delius and Stravinsky
Benedetto Lupo (piano), London Philharmonic
The Ravel concerto seemed the odd man out in the surrounding springtime territory, but although he lived near rather than in Paris, as the other composers did at the time (yes, I know that Delius eventually settled in nearby Grez-sur- Loing), it seems likely that they all had some mutual contact. Ravel certainly knew Delius, since he made a piano reduction of his opera Margot la Rouge on the composer’s behalf.
The Italian pianist Benedetto Lupo is not well-known in the UK, but his skill in the Ravel
Left-Hand Concerto must have made itself known previously to either Mena or the LPO, for his was an outstanding performance, with delicacy and power wonderfully combined. Some of the tempi in the later part of the work were as fast as one had ever heard, but pianist and conductor combined to produce a most brilliant and pungently expressive performance. There was perhaps a slightly doubtfully helpful factor in Lupo’s playing, however, since he continually placed his right hand on the piano stool in order to assist control and balance. This ability will not of course have been available to the one-handed Paul Wittgenstein, who commissioned the concerto. But perhaps that is too much of a quibble.