The show is standard matter: Four Sea Interludes from Britten’s opera “Peter Grimes”, Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Holst’s mammoth drama “The Planets” – all by British composers. There’s something weird and a little silly about the idea of touring your country’s repertoire.
Especially when the chores, like this one, do chestnuts all the time. I endorse British ensembles in favor of British music, but “The Planets” hardly needs support, and the Royal Philharmonic, for all its vibrancy, the sound of which is not much different from The New York Philharmonic will have. The number of orchestras that carry the actual tonal style or interpretation of the music of their countrymen is now almost or really zero.
But with Petrenko, a tall, energetic man on the podium – bouncing up and down, glittering and flexing the long fingers of his left hand like a witch – it was a fun evening. From Britten on, the orchestra’s wind and brass are particularly soft and sure, sounding like the dew in Holst’s “Venus” and adding to the ominous sound of “Saturn” and the sensual sound of “Neptune” ,” also features the extra-musical vocals of Musica Sacra, of Kent Tritle.
Cellist Kian Soltani, soloist in Elgar, played with lightness and intimacy, and considerable wit in Lento. It speaks to his collectiveness that his encore includes five of the orchestra’s conductors as he arranges an excerpt from Shostakovich’s soundtrack for “The Gadfly”. At the end of the concert, the encore of the entire orchestra also left England for Russia, with a cheerful performance of “Dance of the Tumblers” from Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Snow Maiden”.
Royal Symphony Orchestra
Performing on Mondays at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan.
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