Gypsies, a concerto, and paintings at the RFH

Three well-known works yesterday evening at the Royal Festival Hall, with the Philharmonia Orchestra under veteran conductor Lorin Maazel. First up was Kodály's Dances of Galanta, based on Hungarian Gypsy tunes; Maazel got a particularly warm and colourful sound from the orchestra.

Second up was one of the two most popular piano concertos - Tchaikovsky's First (the other being Rachmaninov's Second); personally I think there are many better concertos around, but this one has plenty going for it. The soloist was Simon Trpčeski, who happily avoided the over-brilliant approach often favoured for this concerto; occasionally I thought the first movement a little restrained, but the third was played with a fine combination of fluidity and fire.

The final item was Ravel's orchestration of Mussorgsky's piano work Pictures at an Exhibition. This consists of ten sections based on paintings by Vitor Alexandrovich Hartman, which were shown in an exhibition in 1873 shortly after the painter's death. Some of the paintings have since disappeared, but Mussorgky's colourful representations of them have always been popular. Ravel orchestrated the work in 1922; on the whole I'm suspicious of orchestrations of piano pieces (Les Sylphides, orchestrations of Chopin pieces, is horrible) but Ravel was a master of orchestral colour and added to rather than detracting from the work. Maazels' performance brought out the excitment an vividness of the work splendidly and received a fully justified ovation.

Irrelevantly: technology on the train home - I was listening to an iPod and reading Vanity Fair on a Sony reader; the bloke sitting next to me was using an iPhone and a Blackberry... where will it end?

Posted: Fri - December 4, 2009 at 09:09 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM