Friday 10 November 2006

Virtuoso Piano Series

Last night we were at the Cadogan Hall for a concert in the S.W. Mitchell Capital Virtuoso Piano Series. This is a series of concerts being given by the London Festival Orchestra. Each of the concerts in their 2006/7 series begins with one of Rossini's String Sonatas and then the orchestra accompany a distinguished soloist in piano concerto. After the interval the soloist plays a solo piano work and then an orchestral piece completes the evening.

Last night, French virtuoso Emmanuel Despax played Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the LFO conducted by their artistic director Ross Pople. The concerto benefited from the orchestra's chamber orchestra size (6 first violins, 6 2nd violins) so that they never came close to overwhelming the piano, which can happen. Despax is only 23 and studied at the Yehudi Menuhin school. His playing was strong, yet wonderfully poetic; he is a fine, expressive pianist and is obviously at home in this repertoire. His playing had a maturity which belied his age. After the interval he gave a fine performance of Liszt's Ballade No. 2. Then the orchestra gave a highly accomplished and poetic account of Faure's Suite from Pelleas et Melisande; the incidental music that he wrote for the London performancjavascript:void(0)
Publishes of Maeterlinck's play.

The series continues with some other attractive programmes: Pascal Roger playing Ravel's G minor Piano Concerto with Debussy's Estampes and Dvorak's Czech Suite; Michael Roll playing Schumann's Piano Concerto with Beethoven's Six Bagatelles and Mussorgsky's A Night on the Bare Mountain.

Part of the attraction is the chamber nature of the orchestra, which alters both the balance between soloist and orchestra and between strings and wind. The new Cadogan Hall is an ideal venue for music of this size.

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