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Taking part in music by Julia Perry, Korngold and Dvořák this was one other triumphant RSNO live performance – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United Kingdom Varied: Philippe Quint (violin), Royal Scottish Nationwide Orchestra / Christian Reif (conductor). Usher Corridor, Edinburgh, 14.10.2022. (BBS)

Christian Reif conducts violinist Philippe Quint and the Royal Scottish Nationwide Orchestra © Jessica Cowley

Julia Perry – A Quick Piece for Orchestra
Korngold – Violin Concerto
Dvořák – Symphony No.7

Having loved the New World Symphony, not too long ago performed by the Filharmonie Brno, it was attention-grabbing and instructive to listen to Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony just a few days later, performed by the Royal Scottish Nationwide Orchestra. Carried out by Christian Reif, a younger German maestro, who from 2016-2019 was resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, this was one other blended programme of well-known and unknown music. Within the first half we heard A Quick Piece for Orchestra by the American composer, Julia Perry (1924-1979), after which Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto, with Philippe Quint as soloist.

There was an honest if not monumental viewers for this programme of lesser-known music, amusingly launched by Peter Dykes, one of many RSNO’s glorious oboists, and led tonight by Emily Davis. Reif, who strode on to the stage like a colossus, proceeded to dominate the efficiency with a flamboyant and theatrical fashion. Mixing German precision with American showbiz pizzazz, Reif demonstrated why he’s in such demand all through the world. Apparently, I word that he studied on the Mozarteum in Salzburg with Dennis Russell Davies, who so impressively performed the Filharmonie Brno within the Usher Corridor.

The opening work, A Quick Piece for Orchestra, dated from 1952. Combating racial discrimination and sexism, Perry was one of many first African-American musicians to make a mark on musical historical past. After research at Princeton and the Julliard, she acquired a scholarship to work in Italy with the composer Luigi Dallapiccola, and this glorious piece was written round this time. A tightly conceived work, packing lots into seven minutes of music, it was given an exciting efficiency by the RSNO, and was an entertaining opener to the live performance. Contrasting loud and comfortable sections, it explored the total vary of the orchestra, and made us need to hear extra of this uncared for composer’s work. Ailing well being dogged her life, as she suffered a sequence of strokes and died on the age of solely 53, however she possessed nice expertise, and I’m certain that extra concert events will characteristic her compositions.

One other composer who has been unjustly uncared for, primarily as a result of he grew to become a famous composer of movie scores and suffered being patronised by his friends, was Erich Korngold (1897-1957). His lush romanticism was out of trend in mid-twentieth century classical music, reasonably like Richard Strauss, however he was truly a tremendously gifted composer, recognised early by Mahler and Richard Strauss as a prodigy. His opera Die Tote Stadt (1920) had been a lot admired, and when Max Reinhardt requested him to return to Hollywood to make a movie rating out of Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Evening’s Dream, in 1935, his success was big. Reinhardt had been one of many founders of the Salzburg Pageant and was a well-known director of performs and operas. (One in all my signature roles throughout my profession was La Roche in Strauss’s 1942 Capriccio, a job based mostly famously on Reinhardt, a theatre director with an unlimited ego however even better charisma, and this historic character has at all times me.) Like Strauss, Korngold had no time for the avant-garde composers of his day, with their atonal serialism, and his collaboration with Reinhardt on Dream resulted in a beautiful movie, starring James Cagney as Backside, and a juvenile Mickey Rooney as Puck. It’s effectively price in search of the movie out.

After WWII, the defeat of Adolf Hitler and his Nazis, and the success of many different movies, Korngold wrote his Violin Concerto, and what a chunk it turned out to be! Premiered in St Louis with the nice Jascha Heifetz as soloist, devoted to Mahler’s widow Alma, and written in D Main, the important thing of lots of the most well-known violin concertos, this piece was an instantaneous success.

This efficiency by the American violinist, Philippe Quint, taking part in a 1708 Stradivarius violin, was an impressive triumph. This massively expressive musician was merely sensational, taking part in with verve and keenness, totally ready to deal with the wildly virtuosic components within the rating, but in addition cajoling wonderful tone from his excellent instrument.  I by no means stop to be amazed on the sound this actually fairly small instrument could make in professional arms, dominating an enormous live performance corridor with ease. The solo half emphasises the highest register of the violin, and Quint performed with a sweetness tempered with metal which took the breath away. This was taking part in of true world class, and his rapport with Reif was additionally crystal clear, the 2 performers exchanging glances and smiles all through the work. The RSNO was in high kind and shaped the proper accompaniment to the soloist. Korngold’s addition of vibraphone, xylophone, harp and celeste to the usual orchestra added fantastic magical sounds to the ensemble, and the concerto’s end was greeted by big cheers and bravos. Quint handled us to an encore of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile, drawing consideration to his examine of the actor/composer, which has resulted in a multimedia tribute and an album, Chaplin’s Smile.

I spoke to Philippe Quint after his efficiency, which marked his debut in Scotland, and he was at pains to inform me how a lot he liked taking part in within the Usher Corridor, describing it as among the best acoustics on this planet. I hope that he’ll come again and play within the corridor once more quickly, as this was merely marvellous violin taking part in.

As if this was not sufficient, after the interval we have been handled to a different spectacular efficiency, this time of Antonín Dvořák’s magnificent Seventh Symphony. It was the Royal Philharmonic Society who commissioned Dvořák to jot down his Seventh Symphony, which was premiered in April 1885. In the identical 12 months the world heard, for the primary time, Brahms’s Fourth Symphony and Bruckner’s Seventh. It’s a staggering thought.

Dvořák’s Seventh is an incredible work, maybe his least Czech-related symphony, but nonetheless imbued along with his emotions of despair on the destiny of his homeland, of a rustic subsumed inside a a lot bigger entity, the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With out making odious comparisons, there is a component of the identical craving in those that advocate, let’s say, a extra strongly differentiated position for Scotland inside the UK, for instance.

The Seventh Symphony is a darker work than lots of the composer’s different works, reflecting, in addition to his emotions for his homeland, his sorrow on the lack of his mom, and earlier his eldest daughter. Starting with rumbling murmurs deep inside the orchestra, the primary motion covers a wealth of emotion till the tip, when it subsides again into nothingness. The sluggish motion is basically an oasis of calm, launched by a stunning clarinet solo, superbly performed by Timothy Orpen, however the passionate temper returns within the Scherzo with its reminiscences of Bohemia within the melodies. The finale once more takes us via battle and doubt to sunnier uplands, and the triumphant ending is exhilarating within the excessive.

All this was splendidly conveyed via the orchestra to the viewers by the pressing promptings of Christian Reif, who performed with bravura and sensitivity, and coaxed fantastic sounds out of all sections. He generously singled out all of the woodwind and brass soloists on the finish, in addition to Paul Philbert on timpani, who single-handedly shaped the percussion part of the orchestra.

This was one other triumphant live performance by the RSNO, who deserve nice credit score for courageous and attention-grabbing programming, and in addition incredible taking part in.

Brian Bannatyne-Scott

First revealed in its authentic model on Edinburgh Music Assessment.

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