New Perspectives: the BBC Philharmonic play Ravel and Shostakovich
Conducted by Nicholas Collon
With Jean-Efflam Bavouzet in Piano
Live from the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Friday 13th January 2017
There were a number of things that made this concert a wonderful musical evening, from the chance to hear a world premiere of Colin Mathews’ orchestration of Les Vallee des Cloches which had been written by Ravel originally as a solo piece for piano, but was just recently scored for orchestra, to the delightful playing of Jean-Efflam Bavouzet in Ravel’s marvelous Piano Concerto for The Left Hand and a beautiful encore of Debussy’s First Arabesque which was as light and delicate as a cloud on a summer’s day at the hands of this great virtuoso.
Then with the skilful direction of Nicholas Collon the orchestra performed the deeply troubled and ominous 8th symphony of Shostakovich so well that the tension was almost like a heavy wet blanket, weighing down. We felt the impending oppression of the heavy hand of the Soviet government, the growing threat of the Nazi invasion with all the fear and dread that will come.
The whole concert was a wonderful evening of music by two writers who are different and yet were both touched by the wars that marred their lives. There are times when the music was light and almost jovial, but then the underlying darkness was there and never far away.
The BBC Philharmonic is a wonderful orchestra and they showed their skill once more in this concert. Certainly, there were some standout moments which I mentioned at the onset, but there were moments that were breathtaking and for these, the musicians responsible were called upon to stand and take the deserved ovation of the crowd who were not stingy in showing their appreciation. For who could deny them their due for such a wonderful performance?