Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: Royal Concert Hall Nottingham: 11/3/20: 4****. William Ruff



Royal Philharmonic Orchestra


March 11 2020


Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham




Review: William Ruff





The format of Wednesday’s RPO concert couldn’t have been more traditional: overture, concerto and symphony.  What made it special was that it was star violinist Tasmin Little’s final appearance in Nottingham before she embarks on what sounds like a hectic second career. She’ll soon be saying goodbye to her precious Guadagnini violin in order to concentrate on a host of projects aimed at enriching musical lives, especially those of the young.

She was in Nottingham to play Mozart’s 4th Concerto, not exactly the most showy work in the repertoire but one which is full of charm, wit and elegance, seeming to smile its way from beginning to end. Tasmin’s playing reminded us of what we shall soon be missing: her obvious love of the music, her rapport with the orchestra, her spontaneous way with phrasing, her sweetness of tone.  The slow movement was particularly fine, its long continuous song almost operatic in feel with playful rhythms and a sense of intimate dialogue between soloist and orchestra.

The concert opened with conductor Thierry Fischer squeezing every drop of colour and atmosphere from Borodin’s Overture to Prince Igor, his opera in which the hero is captured by invading Tartars who somewhat surprisingly entertain him with the exotic dance skills of their  Polovtsian maidens. The overture is full of hummable tunes and was given the full Technicolor treatment with some particularly fruity brass and a full, rich string sound.  The lyrical horn song was a particular delight.

Then in the second half came Brahms’ 1st Symphony.  It’s a serious work and the composer feared that no one would love it.  Posterity has proved him wrong and the central melody from the last movement even became a Labour Party signature tune in the 1980s.  The opening was both solemn and noble, its pulse-quickening rhythm pounded out by the drums while the violin and cello line swept majestically above it.  From there Thierry Fischer moulded a performance that was thrusting and purposeful in the outer movements but gentle, warm and lyrical in the inner ones.



Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Tasmin Little, violin

Thierry Fischer, conductor

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