Skip to main content

First Night Gala Concert, Royal Festival Hall

The much anticipated re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall was officially upon us. There was neither pomp nor circumstance: even the Duke of Kent was
happy to be amongst the audience rather than in the ceremonial box.
The opening work by Julian Anderson was a lovely collage of choral and orchestral textures - both expansive and intimate. The Byzantium section was marvellous - just hearing a wash of organic and energetic sound. Jurowski conducted the work with much confidence. This was followed by Firebird which really showed off the hall's new found dynamism.
The rest of the programmes was somewhat eclectic including the last movement of Beethoven 9th Symphony (The reviewer from New York Times obviously did not realise there was a cast change - Philip Langridge and Brindley Sherratt were replaced by Simon O'Neill and Neal Davies). Marin Alsop brought the evening to a stylish and climatic end with Bolero.


Popular posts from this blog

Joyce DiDonato sings Berlioz at BBC Proms

Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique started this BBC Proms concert with Le corsaire - it was tightly played and a sonorous sound. I wonder whether this was due to the whole orchestra standing up while playing had anything to do with it. It sounded good.

Joyce DiDonato first sang La mort de Cléopâtre - her performance was mesmerising due to her dramatic delivery of text and the wonderful lines. Sir John was ever sensitive to the flow of the music. Dido’s death scene was short, yet no less powerful with DiDonata's breadth of emotions. Some may moan about her over dramatic delivery at the expense of pitch accuracy - but that's just nitpicking.

The second half of the concert was Harold in Italy - a whimsical and eclectic piece that's interesting to listen to - but I wonder whether this should have been played in the 1st half of the concert.

Poème symphonique, British Museum

Now how often does one get to hear Ligeti's "joke" Poème symphonique? It came about recently at the British Library. Or rather, it was performed in the old British Library reading room. 100 metronomes arranged neatly on a platform, lit, and poised to commence. After a short introduction, a small team of museum staff flicked the metronomes and the performance started. It was a cacophony of sound echoed by the reading room's unique acoustic. It's strangely mesmerizing and hypnotic. From time to time, some metronomes came together into unison, and then dissipated. It had an organic quality to it. If one ever wondered, it took about 25 minutes until the last remaining metronome on Largo came to a stop. It was fun!

From the House of the Dead, the Royal Opera

Janáček's From the House of the Dead was not going to be an "easy listening" piece. The drama was intense and claustrophobic - perhaps that's intentional. Unlike Káťa Kabanová or Jenůfa where there was a greater story arc, The House was more choppy - including two plays within the opera. All in all a very intense evening.