REVIEW: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Corn Exchange, Cambridge
- Credit: Archant
What an exhilarating evening! This concert, more than ever, demonstrated to me just how much more there is offered in a live concert than the plethora of recorded music we hear these days.
Cambridge was the ideal place for performing the one of the items in the programme: ‘The Wasps Overture’ for the composer Vaughan Williams wrote this music for a production of a satirical play of the same name at Trinity College Cambridge.
The music indeed brought to mind the sinister buzzing of wasps as well as the venomous antics of the legal profession.
In this wonderful concert, the opening ‘Coriolan Overture’ by Beethoven demonstrated immediately that we were in the presence of experienced, skilful and sensitive musicians.
In this piece, and throughout the evening, the conductor Barry Wordsworth, brought out the subtleties of the music splendidly with compelling restraint in the most gentle episodes to the dramatic outbursts of the more bombastic moments. This splendid orchestra is a real asset as the Orchestra in Residence at the Corn Exchange.
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Piano soloist, Janina Fialkowska was magnificent. Her phenomenal technique identified the key musical content of Chopin’s virtuosic and rather complicated score in his second piano concerto. Within the busy fabric she teased out Chopin’s moving melancholic melodic strains from the abundant virtuosic flourishes to the basic harmonic accompaniment. Her musical understanding and skill was always apparent.
The final ‘Enigma Variations’ by Elgar was the most inspiring and exhilarating performance of this popular work that I have ever heard. While appearing to be a complex score with clever intertwining of the theme in the extremely diverse variations, we could enjoy this work perfectly at face value, revelling in the different characteristics of the friends Elgar featured. We revelled in it all: rapid chattering, bombastic outbursts, tentative stammering, gentle laughter, the helter skelter of a bulldog, grandeur and strength, charming delicacy, emotional tenderness, and triumphant confidence.
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The pieces came alive while throughout the variations there remained that intriguing enigma that has never been explained – just perfect. This was indeed a wonderful evening.
• The next concert in this Cambridge Classical Concert Series is on Thursday January 18 featuring the City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Visit www.rpo.co.uk.