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HomeTheatreBrno Philharmonic Orchestra UK tour reaches Cardiff – Seen and Heard Worldwide

Brno Philharmonic Orchestra UK tour reaches Cardiff – Seen and Heard Worldwide

United Kingdom Janáček, Martinů, Vaughan Williams: Laura van der Heijden (cello), Brno Philharmonic Orchestra / Dennis Russell Davies (conductor). St David’s Corridor, Cardiff, 15.10.2022. (PCG)

Brno Philharmonic Orchestra

Vaughan WilliamsFantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis
Martinů – Cello Concerto No.1
Dvořák – Symphony No.9 ‘From the New World’

The Welsh Nationwide Opera will go to Brno subsequent month to current their new manufacturing of The Makropoulos Affair. That’s the reason this live performance by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra took on one thing of the character of an change go to. It was the penultimate occasion of their present UK tour; they’d already appeared in Bradford, Edinburgh, Middlesborough, Basingstoke (evaluate right here) and London. The programme was the identical as in Edinburgh, however the WNO connection was mirrored significantly in Janáček’s overture Jealousy. It was written for Jenůfa however the composer separated it from its guardian opera, and it grew to become lengthy condemned to a considerably shadowy unbiased existence. So, it made an fascinating distinction to the extremely profitable WNO manufacturing of the whole opera earlier this 12 months.

There have been additionally WNO hyperlinks with Martinů’s concerto, since a few years in the past the Welsh firm had given the belated British première of the composer’s The Greek Ardour (after the work was scandalously rejected by Covent Backyard). A rumoured revival of that staging is probably not altogether out of the query. Be that as it might, it was an actual pleasure to make the acquaintance of the hardly ever heard First Cello Concerto. This neo-classical jeu d’esprit sparkled with delight and was freed from the considerably dour earnestness that would generally afflict the composer in his struggles with symphonic kind. The sluggish motion specifically had an opulent chromatic heat within the succesful arms of Laura van der Heijden, a winner of the BBC Younger Musician of the 12 months in 2012 when she memorably and enterprisingly selected Walton’s Cello Concerto for her last efficiency. Martinů’s rating, initially written in 1931, was given within the revised 1955 model, however the variations didn’t appear very important, primarily a matter of some nips and tucks right here and there.

The live performance had opened with Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis, a piece presumably chosen to have fun the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Vaughan Williams’s beginning however a reasonably odd alternative for this corridor. The music was particularly written to be performed initially in Gloucester Cathedral, itself a barely odd alternative since its austere Norman columns present a extreme distinction to the extra filigree ‘perpendicular’ ornament of the music itself. In any occasion, a way of area and distance is significant if one needs to attain the right impact of the environment of the string writing (with two distinct our bodies of gamers, a big group within the foreground that includes a solo string quartet, and a smaller group of gamers offering an echo within the ether). With out this sense of environment, the passage of thematic materials backwards and forwards from one group of gamers to the opposite can appear dangerously like mere doodling. There is also a temptation for conductors to hurry up the supply to keep away from any sense of repetition. Sadly, in St David’s Corridor it’s merely not attainable to supply for the sense of stereophonic distancing so important to the music. Dennis Russell Davies made no try to provide this, as he merely positioned the second orchestra instantly behind the primary. Alternatively, he proved ready to withstand the impulse to compensate by the injection of any synthetic pleasure. He conjured an environment of heavenly contemplation and stillness at first, which endured all through. One can however consider an awesome many different Vaughan Williams scores that would have offered a greater tribute.

The closing merchandise on the programme put the Brno Philharmonic on way more acquainted territory. Their ease with Dvořák’s type – as so usually with Czech orchestras – paid ample dividends of their dealing with of the Bohemian and Moravian folks melodies which the composer blended with American folks materials for his symphony From the New World. It was merely not possible to seek out fault with this efficiency, fantastically and characterfully performed, and invested with loads of imaginative interpretative touches. Dennis Russell Davies earned our thanks and respect for the complete repeat of the in depth first-movement exposition; it’s vital with a view to stability the respective weight of the assorted actions. The repeat served, too, to ratchet up the joy within the dashing string passages resulting in the low flute theme, which was performed at a barely slower pace and with an infectious lilt. One might need welcomed a barely assorted model of this phrasing on the repeat, however the return of the identical touches was nonetheless welcome. The well-known opening of the sluggish motion was not made too emotional by the cor anglais, in order that the melodic echoes within the strings had been much more haunting than ordinary. And the finale had all of the required open-air environment and pleasure. One was forcibly reminded how a lot later American composers resembling Copland owed to Dvořák’s instance after they got here to conjure up photographs of the American prairie.

We got a short however uproarious encore, which – I’m sorry to must return but once more to this previous grievance! – Dennis Russell Davies did not determine for the good thing about the viewers. I feel the piece may have been the interlude from Weinberger’s opera Schwanda the Bagpiper (not the better-known polka), however I would equally nicely be fallacious. Such anonymity does little credit score to the orchestra’s superlative efficiency. The viewers, considerably smaller than for the BBC NOW’s live performance which opened the Cardiff 2022-2023 season final week, was extremely enthusiastic.

Paul Corfield Godfrey



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