Prom 54: Filarmonica della Scala plays Brahms and Respighi
Debut in the Proms of Filarmonica della Scala orchestra. What? First time of Scala orchestra in London? No and yes. The trick is that in 1982 Claudio Abbado created a new orchestra formed with members of Teatro alla Scala orchestra to focus on symphonic repertoire. And we got the best of these two faces of the orchestra: an opera orchestra who follows the singers and a full symphonic orchestra telling the full story.
The concert start was delayed because of the instruments arriving late and musicians having to rehearse late until the very beginning of it. Not a good omen (wow! I have used the word omen! Next one in the list is gargantuan).
The first part was Brahms Violin Concerto with Leonidas Kavakos as soloist. Did they clothes also arrive late? He got the first prize of bad dressing of these Proms. However his playing was as good as expected: powerful and virtuous. Better on the fast parts, as the allowed him to showcase all his marvelous strength. The orchestra here worked as a perfect companion, taking always care of helping the soloist. Chailly did a couple of strange dynamics as personal seal but in general was pledging to Kavakos (not that he really needed as his sound was always loud enough to be over the orchestra). Very interesting approach to this concerto from a non-so-germanic tradition but kinda operistic, letting the violing sing. Audience was enthusiastic about the performance with proper reasons.
After the intermission we got a completely different orchestra prepared to showcase the best of 20th century Italian symphonic music. We listened to authentic virtuosity (what a woodwind section!) serving to a music they truly believe in. And that is one of the most fundamental reasons of this orchestra to exist: to reclaim 20th century Italian music as something as good (at least!) as English (Elgar, Walton, RVW, Britten…) and Austrian-German (Strauss, Schoenberg…) music from 20th century. Italian musicians had been focused on the glorious past forgetting the amazing quality of their “new” composers. So here was the Filarmonica and Chailly to “fix” this: listen how great is this music and how great it does sound played by these musicians. Mission accomplished. Perfection. Respighi at his best. We totally loved it. Actually we want more. We want more Busoni, Casella (kudos to Noseda and BBC Philharmonic for being champions on his music!), Malpiero, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Rota, Maderna, Nono, Berio and many, many more.