Music Review: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Concert Hall

Words: Kevin Stanley
Tuesday 22 November 2022
reading time: min, words

Kevin Stanley reviews the RLPO's concert at the Royal Concert Hall...


Having grown up near Liverpool I was excited to watch their wonderful orchestra playing live in Nottingham. Domingo Hindoyan is our conductor for the evening. He explains the programme will be made up of Bartók: Suite from The Wooden Prince, Dohnányi: Variations on a Nursery Song. And in the second half of the evening Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 ‘From the New World’.

Hindoyan is blessed with style and poise, and instructs his orchestra with precision and tempered excitement. Isata Kanneh-Mason wears a stunning sparkling emerald jumpsuit and thrills the audience with spectacular piano playing accompanied by the orchestra.  Kanneh-Mason is one of the UK’s fastest rising classical stars and she has already appeared on TV several times including the BAFTAs and the BBC Proms. She treats the appreciative audience to Ernst von Dohnányi’s ingenious set of eleven variations on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, which deftly pokes fun at a host of familiar composers. The tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star is instantly recognisable, but anyone thinking - I can play this - was swiftly put in their place when she began to race through the rest of the extremely complex piece of music at quite a tempo! Amusingly, Dohnányi said of his own work that it was written to: "delight people with a sense of humour, and to annoy everyone else.” But it wowed the audience here tonight.

Kanneh-Mason is one of the UK’s fastest rising classical stars

The rest of the programme brings a symphonic favourite and a fairy tale ballet. Bartók’s pantomime, inspired by Hungary’s folk music, tells the captivating story of a prince who uses a wooden replica of himself to woo a flirtatious princess. Whilst Dvořák’s powerful Ninth Symphony evokes the expansive landscapes and native musical traditions drawing on his Bohemian roots.

A strange highlight of the evening for me is watching the percussion section. Quite how a single musician playing the triangle manages to make the sound of this diminutive instrument be heard so clearly over around 80 other instruments, I cannot tell you. I’m fascinated watching him play perhaps the simplest instrument ever created, yet he plays it with such precision and delicacy, to make such a tremendous sound! Of course, he also gets to play the enormous cymbals.

I was also pleased to see a group of young students in the audience enjoying the performance and discussing it in detail. How pleasing it is to see today’s youth engaging with classical music. It has been a truly fabulous evening of music performed by a powerful and skilled orchestra and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to more classical music events and cannot recommend them highly enough.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra played the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham on 16 November

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