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?
This was the second Diana Damrau London visit in two weeks, this time to sing Strauss Four Last Songs with the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Antonio Pappano. But before that we got an interesting performance of Elgar Alassio. Even if the work is supposed to be Italy inspired it doesn’t really sound Italian. However it is an interesting musical piece showing Elgar mastery on orchestral color. Pappano remarked the work lightness which fit well as a prelude to Strauss music.
Very interesting programme in the opening night for the BBC Symphony Orchestra with his chief conductor Sakari Oramo and violinist Alina Pogostkina. The core of it was Sibelius’ 5th symphony, part of the All Sibelius Symphonies theme planned for this season. Why opening the series with the 5th and not doing in order? Maybe to match the next day 6th and 7th performed by Philharmonia and Esa-Pekka Salonen? That would be incredible complicity between London orchestras :)
First the rant: BBC titling this concert as “Renée Fleming sings Strauss” was a stupid marketing trick. Trick because Fleming was singing more Barber than Strauss and stupid because everyone knew it. People could though “oh, she is singing the Last Four Lieder” while looking at the Proms listing but no more. Beside that, the programme was quite interesting: Oramo’s other orchestra, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra playing a vocal work by Barber that Fleeming included on her last album, some not so frequent Strauss operatic scene and Nielsen’s 2nd symphony.