Rafael Payarre debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was not an easy gig. Replacing Charles Dutoit, who has stepped down as principal conductor of the orchestra for the infamous reasons we all know, put extra pressure on. Dutoit only two concerts during RPO 2017/2018 season were the only two ones scheduled to happen in the Royal Festival Hall instead of in the smalled Cadogan Hall because his name used to attract more audience.
I was excited about seeing for the first time Firebird Orchestra. I am subscriber of their mailing list and once a month they send an email with information about the music they are going to be perform in the next concert. Theres emails are the best one among all of those I receive. Delightful, well written and to the point. The programme was quite interesting, so expectations were quite high. Did it meet expectations?
It was a pity that the cold and snow prevented many people to attend to this wonderful concert from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at the Royal Festival Hall. OAE partners in crime were conductor Ádám Fischer and mezzo Stéphanie d’Oustrac both in splendid form. The first half of the concert was devoted to Mozart mixing arias from La Clemenza di Tito in between and after Prague symphony. The symphony was played with extreme accuracy while still taking risks with sharp entrances and layering.
New concert from the London Chamber Orchestra series. I was shocked by the orchestra and the conductor waiting on the stage for a member of the royal family to enter the hall and seat down. In a concert the highest authority is the conductor, and is the only one to be waited for. More shocking was having most of the audience standing while that person from royal family was entering. I have seen people on some other concert halls standing up because a national anthem was played, but not for someone walking in.
There were many special things in this concert. The programme included the two main work for clarinet quintet: those by Mozart and Brahms. It was not the usual established string quartet joined by an external clarinetist but all were “external” and friends joining for this concert. There were also two additional short pieces added the to announced programme. But they were not given as encores but as prefaces to the two main works.
This was my first visit to a London Chamber Music Society series at Kings Place. I was mostly attracted by Britten Les Illuminations song cycle in the programme. This resulted to be a very nice concert. Camerata Tchaikovsky is a well sized string orchestra made up with Russian players (some living in London and some of them probably joining from Russian for these concerts). It was clear, from they way they played that they invest a very good amount of time in rehearsal of each individual work, so each of the sections learns how to listen to each others and play accurately.
Very interesting piano recital with Jonathan Biss at Wigmore Hall. Since the very beginning of the sonata K310 we realized it was not the conventional academic Mozart so common nowadays between those clone-like-pianist. His approach was not classic at all, but more like a sturm-und-drang Mozart, emphasizing contrasts with flexible dynamics and subordinating tempi to the narrative. It was a quite valid performance which made a lot of more sense in the context of what was coming next.
This was the first collaboration between Holst singers and La Nuova Musica under the direction of David Bates and, after the results, I am pretty sure that won’t be the last. Handel is like home for La Nuova Musica so opening the programme with Judas Maccabeus overture was totally natural for them. And they did very well. The challenge was to come: Mozart. First Mary Bevan sang the beautiful Ruhe sanft from Zaide.
Miah Persson is a wonderful soprano that has chosen a intelligent career path rather than taking any role offer from any big opera house. She, Malcom Martineau at the piano, started the recital with a selection of Haydn English Canzonettas. That was a perfect light beginning to warm up the voice and the audience. Then the house special: Mozart. A set of 6 German lieder and the magic Italian song K579 Un moto di gioia.
2017 / 2018 London Chamber Orchestra season is about emotions. This first concert was titled Jealousy and built around the jealousy that supposedly Salieri felt of Mozart. Or that is the fake story. But we love stories and was really nice to have on the stage before the music the leading actors of the National Theatre Amadeus production to talk a little bit about this. The first part of the concert was the Salieri short sypmhony Il giorno onomastico.
After the Piemontesi Mozart concert from the day before, more Mozart piano music: this time it was Piano Concerto No. 22 with Llŷr Williams as soloist and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Hilary Davan Wetton (the man with the longest baton in UK). Although it was a nice performance I found sort of a discrepancy between the classical soft-and-sweet Mozart that the orchestra was playing with light dynamics and the darker and more revolutionary that Williams played on the solo parts, with kind of messy cadenzas.
This was the last recital of Franceso Piemontesi full Mozart piano sontatas cycle at Wigmore Hall. And after it I can only regret of having moved to London just recently and missed all the previous one. It is amazing when a pianist have something new and interesting to shown on very well known works like this. Piemontesi approach to Mozart is deep and reflexive: Like keeping the joy and clarity of Brendel but more intense but without the darkness of, for example, Barenboim.
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