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Manfred Honeck conducts the Philharmonia on the RFH – Seen and Heard Worldwide

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United KingdomUnited Kingdom Liszt, Bruckner: Alexandre Kantorow (piano), Philharmonia Orchestra / Manfred Honeck (conductor). Royal Pageant Corridor, London, 9.5.2024. (JR)

Manfred Honeck

Liszt – Piano Concerto No.2 S.125
Bruckner – Symphony No.9 WAB 109

I had missed earlier performances given in London by younger French pianist Alexandre Kantorow however had obtained very promising experiences. He received the 2024 Gilmore Artist Award, the youngest and first French pianist to obtain this accolade. 4 years in the past, aged solely 22, he received the Gold Medal on the Tchaikovsky ComPetitors, additionally receiving the Grand Prix, beforehand awarded solely 3 times within the comPetitors’s historical past. That actually says all of it. Here’s a advantageous artist, already in enormous demand by all the foremost orchestras. We might choose him on this live performance solely by a brief twenty-minute concerto, Liszt’s second, consuMMAtely accompanied by Viennese conductor Manfred Honeck and the Philharmonia Orchestra. It’s in a single motion with a wide range of sections, based mostly on a easy tune. Liszt described it as a concerto symphonique, it isn’t actually a show piece for a virtuoso pianist, nor a satisfying symphonic piece. However, Kantorow displayed his prowess, injecting shading and color wherever attainable and muscle the place vital. Finger work was usually at lightning pace. No one current was in any doubt that they had been witnessing the emergence of a fantastic expertise, and we sit up for many extra performances in meatier works. The viewers was captivated by his ravishing encore – sources inform me this will likely have been a Liszt Petrarch sonnet (appropriate me please, should you had been on the live performance, if I’ve been advised flawed).

Bruckner by no means managed to complete this final Ninth Symphony. Had he performed so, I’m satisfied this splendid work would now eclipse his Seventh, which is so usually carried out, and his majestic Eighth. It is likely one of the many nice sorrows in classical music that Bruckner by no means managed to finish it. We’re left to surprise what might need been. Fortunately, Manfred Honeck selected the proper course; musically – he neither (as Nathalie Stutzmann did in a latest efficiency with the London Symphony Orchestra) tacked on Bruckner’s Te Deum – Bruckner prompt this on his deathbed as a risk to his doctor and buddies – nor appended a ultimate motion composed and put collectively by musicologists utilizing fragments discovered within the composer’s results. The three actions which had been absolutely composed are elegant and luxurious and Honeck – lengthy in control of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra – is an professional Brucknerian. His 2020 recording of this very symphony earned him Grammy nominations for Greatest Orchestral Efficiency.

Honeck opened the symphony in splendidly Mysterious trend, the orchestra watching his each gesture. Honeck is exact, oozes Viennese attraction and magnificence and when the music is loud, he doesn’t stint. The brass blazed at each alternative and so they duly thrilled. TrumPets had been incisive, trombones darkish and threatening. Tempi and dynamics had been faultless, orchestral enjoying throughout the board was at a degree I’ve not heard from the Philharmonia Orchestra for some time – they had been clearly in awe of and admiration for his or her conductor. I spotlight Chris Ridley on timpani, Steffan Morris principal cello and Ben Hulme, principal horn, who all stood out. The strings loved their pizzicato within the opening Scherzo, and the brass had been suitably savage after they joined the celebration. The ultimate meditative Adagio was most transferring, with the massive orchestral discordance duly making its mark – is that this his second of loss of life? The ultimate lacking motion was then going to be a reward to the Almighty (his Seventh is devoted to King Ludwig II, his Eighth to the Austrian Emperor, Franz Joseph I, however as Bruckner put it, if he didn’t get to put in writing it, God would solely have himself accountable.

After the elegant tender ending, Honeck held his left arm excessive for what appeared an eternity and no one moved a muscle. He introduced his arm down very slowly and the viewers erupted. This can actually show a spotlight of my musical 12 months.

John Rhodes

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