London Philharmonic Orchestra

Left - Vladimir Jurowski. Photo - Roman Gontcharov

It’s not often that an orchestra of the calibre of the London Philharmonic Orchestra plays in Melbourne, so expectations were high at Hamer Hall on Saturday night, and for this audience member, those expectations were wonderfully fulfilled. The LPO was led by Vladimir Jurowski, a young Russian conductor who has been in the role of Principal Conductor for the last two years, and who evidently commands much respect from the orchestra’s musicians. It was a dazzling performance by an ensemble of musicians who are clearly committed to the music they play, and who obviously gain great enjoyment from it.

The concert opened with an exciting interpretation of Graeme Koehne’s Powerhouse, a ‘rumba/concert opener’ that takes inspiration from sources as diverse as Latin American dance rhythms and Warner Brothers cartoon music. The playing was fast and furious, just as it should be for this work, and the musicians’ attack was breathtakingly accurate, never missing the mark. Jurowski’s movement on the podium was minimal, but his conducting was intense and precise.

This was followed by Jean-Yves Thibaudet’s performance of Ravel’s jazz-infused Piano Concerto in G. Thibaudet seemed equally comfortable with the jazzy, Gershwin-inspired energy of the first movement as he was with the Satie-like simplicity of the piano solo that opens the second movement. His refusal to meddle with the unadorned simplicity of this movement allowed the beauty of the music to emerge effortlessly, bringing tears to my eyes.

Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony was the final work on the program, and it closed the concert with a powerful bang. The orchestra continued to play with impressive accuracy and precision and this work showcased the different orchestral sections very effectively: the lovely oboe solo that opens the second movement was shaped beautifully, the dramatic brass blasts in the first and last movements sent shivers down my spine, and the third movement, where the strings are plucked throughout, was strangely and elusively cheerful.

Jurowski and the orchestra received an enthusiastic standing ovation from the Melbourne Festival audience at Hamer Hall for this performance, and the excitement that could be felt in anticipation of the concert continued as people filed out of the concert hall. I only hope that Melburnians have the opportunity to experience more orchestral performances like this in the near future.

With Principal Conductor Vladimir Jurowski

Venue: the Arts Centre, Hamer Hall
Saturday 10 October @ 8pm Duration: 1hr 40min with interval
Sunday 11 October @ 2pm Duration: 1hr 50min with interval
Premium $240.50
A Reserve Full $185.00 / Groups (8+) $166.50 / Concession $138.75
B Reserve Full $148.00 / Concession $111.00
C Reserve Full $103.60 / Concession $77.70
Student (B & C Reserve) $25.00
Bookings: the Arts Centre 1300 182 183 | Ticketmaster 1300 136 166 |

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