Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
February 1 2019
Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
Review: William Ruff
The RLPO finds plenty of life in two concert hall warhorses
The RLPO played two of classical music’s biggest beasts on Friday: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony. Both works have gone down in musical history for their unusual premieres: the concerto derailed when Beethoven’s soloist opted to do his upside-down violin act between movements and the symphony performed in a black-draped hall to mark the Tchaikovsky’s untimely death only four days before.
However, there were no such histrionics in Nottingham on Friday. The most unusual thing was that the RLPO was directed by soloist Nikolaj Sneps-Znaider in the Beethoven concerto. Some might say that this was a bit risky in something so monumental – but ensemble was tight and the overall architecture rock-solid.
Znaider brought intelligence, breadth of vision and tireless virtuosity to his performance, his violin singing sweetly at the top of its range in the opening movement. There was also plenty of athletic bounce in the finale; but it was perhaps in the central Largetto that he most shone, his sensitive rapport with the orchestra allowing deep mining of the music’s emotion.
In the Tchaikovsky Nikolaj Sneps-Znaider donned tails (but not a tie…) to conduct a work that became a legend before its ink was dry. The composer’s death turned it into a requiem – but it’s also one of his most inventive, experimental, energetic and passionate creations. No half measures are allowed in performance and the RLPO rose to the challenge both as soloists and as ensemble.
The finale reached deep inside the Pathétique’s heart of darkness with Znaider pushing the expressivity of the music to powerful extremes. After the final throbs he waited for the grief to register: the audience’s awestruck silence even more eloquent than the ovation which followed.
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra directed/conducted by Nikolaj Sneps-Znaider (violin)