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The Philharmonia Orchestra
SRD - 8-6-2008 at 11:14

Two concerts from the the Philharmonia Orchestra at The Anvil in Basingstoke. The first under Sir Andrew Davies and the second under Gustavo Dudamel.
Having the entertaining experience of meeting (and copping the autograph of) Sir Andrew Davies, in a Hawaian shirt over his dress trousers and patent leather shoes, propped up against the wall under the overhanging roof at the stage door, sheltering from the elements whilst having a pre-concert cigarette, as a precursor to the first concert should have set up a great evening, but for me it wasn't so. The programme was not to my taste, Berlioz Overture: Beatrice & Benedict was completely unmemorable. I'm not a lover of piano music so Brahms Piano Concerto no.2 was never going to grab me, however Boris Berezovsky is a fine pianist with the strength and power, coupled with a necessary sensitivity, to cope with this massive piece, his performance made it almost bearable. Dvorak's Symphony no.6 is not my favourite of his works but it is one of MrsSRD's and she thought it was played beautifully, I nearly fell asleep. Sir Andrew conducted with ease, carefully, and never pushing his own position but bringing each part of the orchestra to the attention of the audience as and when required and leading them with a grace that emphasised his self-effacing manner.

The second concert was a very different kettle of fish. Gustavo Dudamel leaps and prances on the podium, shaking his head, lifting his arms high and generally flinging himself around, it would be a parody if it wasn't so precisely in line with both the music and the atmosphere of the pieces. They tore into Smetana's Overture: The Bartered Bride, I have never heard it played so fast, but the audience, and the orchestra, who finished with broad grins all over their faces, were delighted by the exuberance of the performance. Then Gil Shaham (or Gil Shamam, who plays the piano, according to the programme) came on to play the Dvorak Violin Concerto, he is a fine violinist and played the piece well, again MrsSRD was more impressed than me, I found the orchestra a little subdued and the Central European aspects of the music a little too muted, but it was a perfectly acceptable performance, much appreciated by the audience, and Gil Shaham came back and played an extended encore that I didn't recognise but, by a process of logic rather than musical knowledge, we assumed to be Bach. Absolutely beautifully played, it's been a long time since I've heard something so precise, so mathematically accurate, played with so much feeling. A lovely, lovely way to end the first half.
Tchaikovsky's Symphony no.5 was the final piece. Someone said of Tchaikovsky something like "He writes sentimental tosh, but such magnificent sentimental tosh." and this was of that order. A fine performance to round off the evening, but not quite, Gil Shaham had changed (what is it about classical musicians and Hawaian shirts?) and watched the second half of the programme from the auditorium and MrsSRD managed to collar his autograph as well.

The second concert is being repeated at the Royal Festival Hall tonight (Sunday 8th June 2008) at 7.30pm, I recommend you go see it.


LSemmens - 8-6-2008 at 13:18

Awwww! I'm too late! It's 11.00PM here!


Quaver - 8-6-2008 at 16:11

I'm a bit of a Berezovsky fan myself:love1) Never heard him live, but would love to sometime.
Gil Shaham, I've seen on TV (proms). I love Dvorak Violin concertowaveysmiley

No, I'm not going to RFH today:D