Great classics with great class

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra SUS-140406-090557001
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra SUS-140406-090557001

Billed as The Great Classics this was certainly an evening of very popular classical music and was enthusiastically received by a packed house.

Brian Wright, almost lost behind the piano, opened with Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The balance proved to be better than expected, given that few of the orchestral players were raised up and most were well behind the proscenium arch.

This did have the benefit of highlighting the cellos, and upper strings, bringing a greater sense of immediacy and bite.

Sibelius’ Finlandia was a fine contrast, allowing us to experience the throaty growl of the brass even if we could not see them.

The horn section was rather lost here in terms of impact, though they seemed brighter in the Dvorak.

As previously, the forward positioning of the strings made us far more aware of the throbbing ostinato from the violas and second violins during the familiar central melody.

Tom Poster brought a warm virility to Grieg’s Piano Concerto, with a clean attack and lightning changes of mood.

The first movement cadenza was fierce and formidable. The hall’s close acoustic made the second movement seem pleasantly warm and the soloist convinced us of the nobility of the melodic line.

The fire we had experienced in the opening movement carried over into the finale, but included a moving cello solo, along with much fine solo playing.

After an extended interval – the hall’s bars are not really up to a full house – we heard Dvorak’s Symphony No 9.

While this is always known as the New World Symphony, on this occasion it was the Bohemian melodic strands which stood out both in the opening movement and the charming dances of the third.

Throughout, Brian Wright drove the piece at a fast pace, bringing with it real excitement as well as some exemplary solo playing from the brass and woodwind.

Given the enthusiasm created, let us hope the event can be repeated next year.

Dr Brian Hick