MusicNorth East & YorkshireReview

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra | Tchaikovsky, Korngold & Mussorgsky – Leeds Town Hall

Conductor: Vasily Petrenko

Composers: Tchaikovsky, Korngold, Mussorgsky

Reviewer: Rich Jevons

The first part of this triple bill sees Tchaikovsky looking at forbidden love, notably Francesca’s adultery which led to her incarceration in Dante’s Hell. There is a brooding intro which then stirs into a tempest of frenzied and frenetic strings. And there are more reflective and solemn moments. But love is in the air throughout.

There is some Hellish violence where brass anthems are echoed in the strings, and the piece makes the best use of the full orchestra to express Tchaikovsky’s passion. Vasily Petrenko conducts with both subtlety and verve building the piece up to a mesmeric finale, a gift to the percussionists.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 was composed in 1945 when the composer was an emigré in America. This a treasure to be given to any talented violinist, but for Elena Urioste, she brings it into the daylight as an absolute masterpiece. In particular, the perfect balance between soloist and orchestra.

The second movement has both wit and lightness as well as more harsh and boisterous moments. The coda acts as the perfect denouement and throughout the piece benefits from the great skill of Urioste.

Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an an Exhibition begins with an exceptionally catchy fanfare which is reworked for each movement. The movementGnomus, is a funny little monster who seems to stroll through the section, occasionally darting too.

The Old Castle is gentle and serene but slightly haunting. Tiuleries(Children’s Quarrel after Games) is intended to depict children at play arguing, and indeed, you can easily imagine little frolics and tiny tumbles. Bydlo (Cattle)is weighted and earthy (symbolising a bull pulling a cart).

Ballad of the Unhatched Chicks is a cheeky little number with brisk strings and a driving rhythm while‘Samuel’ Goldenberg and ‘Schmuÿle is a portrait of a rich and poor Jew given their own motifs that play against each other. Movement number seven, Limoges. The Market (The Great News)is full of busyness and brisk energy while Catacombs is plaintive and mournful. The Hat on Fowl’s Legs is the most belligerent and voluminous of the suite while The Bogatyr Gates (In the Capital in Kiev) is a regal and resplendent climax to an amazing evening.

Reviewed on 24 November 2018 | Image: Matt Stuart

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