Concert reviews: Saturday 6 December 2014

Saturday 6 December was the London Philharmonic Orchestra's last Royal Festival Hall concert of 2014, before the Orchestra heads off on tours to Germany, Iceland and China over the next few weeks. Conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, the concert featured the UK premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's Responses: Sweet disorder and the carefully careless for piano and orchestra, performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard. It also included Stravinsky's Symphonies of Wind Instruments, Messiaen's Oiseaux exotiques and Stravinsky's Orpheus.

The concert received great press reviews – here are the highlights ...

‘The kind of head-expanding concert that regularly puts Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra ahead of its local competition … At every turn of the kaleidoscope the LPO remained on the top of its top form. Fully prepared and rehearsed by Jurowski, they generated an almost sensuous sheen as pianist and ensemble ducked and wove in a piece [the Birtwistle] that for all its occasional clamour or blurts from the tuba still felt chamber-sized. I found it completely intoxicating.’
Geoff Brown, The Arts Desk, 7 December 2014

‘The LPO and Jurowski turned in a beautifully judged, sensitive and pristine, account of Stravinsky’s fascinating ballet music that held the attention for its 30 minutes. All in all, this concert was a notable achievement for the London Philharmonic and its conductor.’
Colin Anderson, Classical Source, 7 December 2014

‘Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques received a mesmerising account … The naïve, elemental quality to so much of Messiaen’s music registered just as powerfully as the complexity of his ‘enormous counterpoint of birdsong’. Not least, this was a riotous and ecstatic performance. Aimard played his part – superlatively – from memory.’
Mark Berry, Boulezian (blog), 7 December 2014

‘Beautifully wrapped and meticulously presented, there can have been few finer gifts for Harrison Birtwistle at the end of his 80th-birthday year than Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments (in its austere original 1920 version), Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques (played to thrilling perfection by Pierre-Laurent Aimard) and Stravinsky’s Orpheus (under Vladimir Jurowski’s super-cool direction).’ (5 stars)
Hilary Finch, The Times, 7 December 2014 (online access for subscribers only)

‘This was one of those rare concerts where all the parts felt exactly right.’ (4 stars)
Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 7 December 2014

‘After the interval we got a classic Aimard performance – Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques, played as only he can. Real fireworks from the keyboard here, fast, supple and dexterous throughout. The winds of the LPO were on fine form too, well-balanced and never over-restrained. The Birtwistle was fascinating, but this was the highlight of the concert.’
Gavin Dixon, Bachtrack, 7 December 2014 

 Read the concert programme online here

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