Endless re-interpretation and discovery
At the Royal Festival Hall, London:
The test of great music is its capacity for endless re-interpretation
and discovery. Next is the test of a great performer whose ability is to
reveal new depths and details in familiar scores and serve as a powerful
bridge between audiences and the complexity of new and lesser known
works. It is a challenge that one looks forward on entering the
This holy citadel of classical music has always mesmerised me in a
bondage that never seems to find an end. Many of the orchestral concerts
I attended and many were the conductors and pianists who had swept me
off my feet.
Among them, my emotional inspiration was the iconic Vladimir
Jurowski, the conductor of the London Philharmoic Orchestra with whom I
fell artistically in love each time he weilded the baton. Such is the
experience one feels, such is the magical aura that composers shower
Conductor of the London Philharmonic
Orchestra Valdimir Jurowski at rehearsal with some members
of the LPO.
They touch the innermost chord of the human heart. The first time I
attended a dress rehearsal of the Philharmonia Orchestra was when I
missed a Jurowski performance almost by an hour.
Instead of sulking, I was drawn to the piano clatter of Denis
Matsuev. It was so prolific and endearing I stood in silence for a
moment before entering the rehearsal hall and for the first time, saw
the charismatic Pietnev conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra, which is
a resident outfit at the Royal Festival Hall. Pietnew was amazing as all
other iconic conductors are.
He was going through his orchestra in readiness for the Summer
season, with Giazunov, Rachmaninov and Tchaikowsky among other
Variety of experiences
One of the things I admire mostly about the Southbank Centre with its
Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room, is the
variety of experiences to unveil from worldclass conductors like
Vladimir Jurowski rolling down to Mikhail pitnew whom I just discovered,
performing in the distinguished setting of Royal Festival hall to take
me on a personal journey and reinvent the orchestral concert in the more
intimate environment and reveal individual artistic stories that combine
the talent of these wonderful and gifted musicians of hard committed
They perform the most profound and moving composers, taking in great
symphonies and help us develop our own personal journeys. At times, I
had come to a breaking point that blurred the distinction between
symphonies and songs.
It is then, that I discovered the awesome influence that the LPO had
on my life that led to an intimate relationship between song and the
composer's symphonies. I also experienced a historic sweep of the piano
repertoire of Denis Matsdev, the incredible richness of various
expressions, especially playing Tchaikowsky. He is very forward-looking,
open-minded and adventurous as his deft fingers caress the keys.
He is so flexible that playing the Masters come easy and create an
exciting vision and flair. As I watched his commitment to the direction
of Pietnev, I only have to say they looked a pair of scissors cutting
sharp and if taken apart, drops dead. Such is the inter-action between
the two. Naturally, tonight's composers came easy.
Tchaikovsky uncharastically was proud of his final work, 'The
Patheique' saying it to be his very best and in particular, the most
sincere of his compositions. More than 100 years after his death, it
remains a towering achievement, anguished and highly emotional and a
lasting monument to a tragic genius.
In the programme scheduled for summer it will be performed alongside
the first part of Glazunov's from the middle ages. Rachmaninov's Third
Piano Concerto which is one of the most difficult works in the piano
repertoire, requiring both phenomenal techniques and exceptional
lyricism. (Wish I heard this score being played under the baton of
Exactly what is the programme? Tchaikovsky teasingly chose not to
divulge, saying 'Let them puzzle their heads over it' after he wrote his
6th Symphony which is one of the greatest of his genre of a programme
symphony the Pathetique.
The programme is a subjective through and through and during his
journey, he often wept bitterly while composing it in his head. It is a
lament for terrible woes (including homosexuality), its final movement
surely the most pessimistic utterances in all music.
The whole work is proof that Tchaikovsky was happiest when he was
sad, viewing his sorrow with detachment and enscapulating them in music
of the utmost beauty.
Arguably the most technically difficult concerto in the standard
repertoire for the soloist, who rarely gets a break in the magnificent
knuckle breaker but Denis katsuev had some sympathy from conductor,
Mikhail Pietnev who 'paused' in between to ease the pianist at today's
This is the finest of Rachmaninov's works for the piano and
orchestra, tightly constructed with 'big tunes' in every movement with
Russian melancholy and luxuriant orchestration.
Alexander Glazeunov" Luciously romantic and popular, Glazunov himself
conducted an untidy recording of this score. His symphonies of 5,6 and 7
had greatly inspired the Prelude. Unless you are a Glazeunov admirer, it
is somewhat cumbersome to read or hear his music.
I was also fortunate to watch the LPO, with its magnificent
conductor, Vladimir Jurowski conducting the Eotvos Shadows for flute,
amplified clarinet and ensemble, a former UK premier of the orchestral
version. Later, he took over List's Piano Concerto No. 2 in A and
Zemlinsky's Lyric Symphony. They were contrasting works with List's
thunderous piano concerto and Zemlinsky's mysterious symphony.