A brand new year and a brand new line-up of concerts from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Hannah Nepil discusses the Orchestra’s upcoming highlights for 2013.
First up, on Wednesday 23rd January, is a visit to Fairfield Halls, Croydon, from the pianist Janina Fialkowska, who will then tour to Cambridge, London’s Cadogan Hall, Northampton and Leeds. Known for her musical taste and authority, this Polish-Canadian musician is now firmly back in the limelight after her career was abruptly halted by illness eleven years ago. She is particularly renowned for her interpretations of Mozart and Chopin. So it’s fitting that this concert sees her performing Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.2, an intensely lyrical work brimming with elaborate ornamentation and Polish folk influences. Also on the programme are Brahms’ darkly dramatic Tragic Overture and Beethoven’s sunny ‘Pastoral’ Symphony. Fabien Gabel conducts.
Another diary date is Tuesday 12th March, when Cadogan Hall hosts a concert devoted to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, one of the foremost British composers and Master of the Queen’s Music. Maxwell Davies, who regularly works with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, helped to choose the programme which features the Sixth Symphony – a work written with members of the RPO in mind and premièred by the RPO in Orkney, where the composer lives – along with two pieces highlighting the composer’s Scottish connections. His First Violin Concerto, performed by Jack Liebeck, is a highly original work heavily influenced by Scottish folk music, while An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise is a tone-painting of an all-night wedding celebration. Martyn Brabbins conducts and Maxwell Davies will introduce each of the pieces himself.
On Tuesday 30th April, the celebrated bass-baritone Sir Willard White joins a top-drawer cast at the Royal Festival Hall for Berlioz’s masterpiece The Damnation of Faust. Dubbed a ‘légende dramatique’ by its composer, the work was inspired by Goethe’s dramatic poem Faust, with which Berlioz became obsessed. ‘This marvellous book fascinated me from the first’, he wrote in his memoirs, ‘I could not put it down.’ His interpretation channels the poem’s depth and power, scored for four solo voices, full seven-part chorus, large children’s chorus and orchestra. Along with White, tonight’s performance features mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose, tenor Paul Groves and baritone Benedict Nelson. Charles Dutoit brings his years of experience as a renowned Berlioz conductor to the podium.
Finally, on 22nd and 29th May, there are two nights of Viennese music at the Hexagon, Reading and London’s Royal Festival Hall respectively, featuring the pre-eminent violinist Pinchas Zukerman. Directing from the violin, he performs Mozart’s Third Violin Concerto, otherwise known as the ‘Strassburg’, a work full of youthful charm whose nickname is inspired by the lively dance tune that appears in the final Rondo. Zukerman then conducts Mahler’s Symphony No.4 – often considered the most traditional of Mahler’s symphonies, but nonetheless full of the contrast and caprice that characterises the composer’s oeuvre. The finale, which describes a child’s view of heaven, showcases the voice of the conductor’s daughter, soprano Arianna Zukerman.