Full house night at the Royal Festival Hall to listen to the new hot guy, Daniil Trifonov, before he is coming to London to do a residency next year with the LSO. The piano star playing Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 was the selling point but the main point of the programme, framed into the Stravinsky cycle the LPO is doing this year, was a couple non-mainstream works: Stravinsky arrangement of a couple of rare numbers from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty (plus a famous one) and Stravinsky own ballet The Fairy’s Kiss.
Another snowy day in London and another super concert. And this came as a surprise: I hadn’t listened before to Vasily Petrenko neither to Sergej Krylov. The selling point for me for this concert was the two suites from Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, one of my favorite works. First work, first surprise: Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, a work that can sound too naive if played focusing on the neo-classical aspects of it acquired a totally new dimension under Petrenko baton.
Before even the concert started we could see the differences between London orchestras and this fine Filarmonica della Scala: although the first work, a Rossini overture, didn’t involve a piano the piano was already in place ready for the next work. Just in the previous week we saw two different London orchestras re-configuring the stage to bring the piano after just a work shorter than 8 mins: Spartacus Adagio before Rachmaninoff 3rd piano concerto with the LPO and Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune before Ravel piano concerto in G with the Philharmonia.
Overall this was a good concert. Mikhail Agrest conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra with a good sense of the Russian tradition, not as dark as Jurowski but still incisive and steep. Opening with Khachaturian’s Adagio from Spartacus was not a good preamble, as the work it quite boring and doesn’t work well out of context. The young Russian pianist Andrey Gugnin took the stage to perform a very nice Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.
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.
This Eugene Onegin was my second opera from OperaUpClose and I clearly saw the trend on their productions: getting the theatrical part working for a contemporary audience. But here they didn’t “update” the music as they did with the Magic Flute to more modern instrumentation patterns, they just made a reduction for piano, violin, cello and clarinet. The libretto was not a translation of the original but a new one, reworking the original.
Elim Chan made her debut with the Philharmonia Orchestra as a short noticed replacement for Krzysztof Urbański. And she did it very well with a not at all easy programme. Opening a concert with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet overture is always tricky. Not only it demands a clear control of all the orchestral layers to expose each one more in different moments but also it is easy to fall in the lousy spectacular gig without keeping of all the organic growing that Tchaikovsky put on it.