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Large Scottish debut for the Belgium Nationwide Orchestra in Edinburgh – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United Kingdom Mozart, Respighi, Saint-Saëns: Paul Lewis (pianist), Belgian Nationwide Orchestra / Roberto González-Monjas (conductor). Usher Corridor, Edinburgh, 6.11.2022. (GT)

Roberto González-Monjas © Marco Borggreve

Respighi – Preludio corale e fuga, P.30

Mozart – Piano Concerto No.25 in C main, KV.503

Saint-Saëns – Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.78 ‘Organ Symphony’

This second live performance within the Usher Corridor’s ‘Sunday Classics’ collection of worldwide orchestras hosted an ensemble making their debut go to to Scotland’s capital. This matinee efficiency was in the course of the Belgian Nationwide Orchestra’s eight-concert tour following their Cadogan Corridor live performance final week. It’s unusual that this excellent orchestra has not been heard right here earlier than because it was abundantly clear from the opening bars of their excellent class.

If the 2 fundamental works on this programme are well-known, the piece by Respighi was unknown to me, definitely within the live performance corridor, or on recordings, which is a pity as it’s a fantastically vibrant piece and shows all of the virtuosity of the BNO. Composed on the age of twenty-two, the Prelude, Chorale and Fugue was Respighi’s commencement piece when he accomplished his research on the Liceo Musicale di Bologna with Giuseppe Martucci. Following its premiere in Bologna in 1901, Martucci proclaimed that his pupil was ‘a grasp’ and positively Respighi’s understanding of orchestral color is absolutely evident, and in addition maybe owing to his research in St Petersburg with Rimsky-Korsakov.

Written in three actions, there isn’t a break within the efficiency, with the opening Preludio beginning with a number of portentous chords on the brass (Lento) earlier than a really romantic theme opens on strings which turns into very partaking when handed throughout the orchestra’s string teams and the woodwind. In the principle Chorale theme the brass group led by the fantastic trombones and trumpets suggests an affiliation with Saint-Saëns in its melodies. This catchy tune was particularly finely offered by the 2 flutes, and there was an exotically vibrant solo violin half for the excellent Misako Akama in a passage of nice virtuosity and accompanied partly by the 2 harps. This heralded the Fuga on the strings rapidly joined by the woodwind and brass through which the completely different orchestral teams entered into dialogue with one another somewhat than as an exacting fugal composition. The closing bars reprised the Chorale theme earlier than the whole ensemble closed triumphantly on golden hued brass. This was a tremendously high-quality efficiency and hopefully our personal orchestras might discover extra of this nonetheless hardly ever heard composer of their live performance programmes. It was clear by way of the energetic path by the Spanish conductor González-Monjas that he believes on this engaging music.

Joined by Paul Lewis, the orchestra was lowered for one among Mozart’s hottest and luxurious late concertos. The opening motion (Allegro maestoso) was fantastically launched, however some string enjoying was a bit of unsure, and apparently, the timpani – now performed by Katia Godart – introduced out the dramatic associations with the Commendatore in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The anomaly of Mozart’s music was resolved by Lewis’s entry on the keyboard as he revealed all the luxurious opulence earlier than the Adagio transported us right into a world of peaceable idyll with a sequence of enjoying by the oboe of Arnaud Guittet and the flute of Baudoin Giaux in a swish discourse with Lewis.

The ultimate Rondo motion heralded briskly dealt with transitions between A minor and F main with Lewis introducing a temper altering theme based mostly on falling phrases, and once more we heard a passage of superlative music-making through which the oboe and flute voiced a stunning thought, whereas the strings deftly accompanied the soloist earlier than the eloquent bassoon of Gordon Fantini, was joined by the oboe and flute. The dream-like sequence disappeared, and the prosaic rondo theme returned and introduced this masterpiece to an thrilling shut.

Within the Saint-Saëns ‘Organ’ Symphony, it was cheering to listen to the Usher Corridor’s nice organ, (the Norman and Beard of Norwich), on this event carried out right here by Darius Battiwalla. In Scotland we hear an digital organ too usually somewhat than the fantastic harmonies of the pipe organ. Proper from the opening chords of the Adagio the thrilling romanticism had been enhanced with the strings exhibiting world-class virtuosity with their velvety nuanced colors, and enhanced by the oboe of Bram Nolf, and the flutes heralding a suspense-filled passage earlier than the prodigious theme with its quotation of the Latin mass ‘Dies irae’. There have been magnificent contributions from the trombones and trumpets – all persuasively performed by the conductor. All through Gonzáles-Monjas confirmed nice approach by consistently conjuring each ounce of romanticism from his musicians. He’s a tall dominating determine on the rostrum and with none relent he pushed the orchestra to the heights of efficiency. I’m certain that this younger conductor will likely be showing recurrently with our orchestras as he has nice expertise in various repertoire.

In each division of this Belgian orchestra there are good virtuosi emphasised by the brilliantly carried out solo passages divided between the musicians. The primary violins are a really well-disciplined group with a golden bloom that was particularly evident within the prolonged passages within the second motion – typically the tone color of the strings is remarkably harmonious whereas the woodwind and brass are corresponding to any of the best European ensembles. The organ passages accompanied, firstly, within the second motion (Allegro moderato) by the piano of Dino Anglani, and later within the Finale (Molto allegro), now on 4 fingers shared with Ilze De Maeyer had been magnificent. This passage was majestic in sharing a transformative magical sequence with the mighty organ (Maestoso) rising to a breath-taking fruits to this nice French romantic symphony.

This was an incredible matinee live performance, and hopefully we could have this top-class orchestra again once more within the subsequent few seasons.

Gregor Tassie

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