Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Petrenko [The Sorcerer’s Apprentice … Le bœuf sur le toit … La mer]

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Pavane, Op.50
Le bœuf sur le toit – Cinema-Fantasie
Poème, Op.25
La mer – three symphonic sketches

James Ehnes (violin)

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko

Reviewed by: Glyn Môn Hughes

Reviewed: 18 March, 2009
Venue: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

If cinema is pure escapism, this concert reflected just that. At times sumptuously, chicly Parisian, at others extrovert, raucous and directly off the streets of Rio at carnival time, the latest Classic FM concert by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic took cinema as its theme.

Dukas was a perfectionist as finely-crafted orchestration as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice shows. Vasily Petrenko and the RLPO opened it a questioning way until its impish spirit finally shone through. Although Petrenko kept a tight lid on the work, he used elastic tempos to bring it great dramatic impact.

James Ehnes. Photograph: Benjamin EalovegaThere was a delicate and refined performance of Fauré’s ethereal Pavane, and then, almost as a shock to the system, came Milhaud’s Le bœuf sur le toit. The piece is an engaging as it is mad, a real piece of carnival that only in the closing moments felt genuinely worthwhile. James Ehnes – a regular visitor to Liverpool – brought some life to the proceedings with a quite sparkling quasi-cadenza in the middle of the piece.

Ehnes returned for a somewhat languid performance of Chausson’s Poème, a charming piece which here lacked soul.

Debussy’s La mer was something of a redemption. The lower strings were striking in the opening movement whilst the constant playfulness of the middle one came to a breathtaking conclusion. The slow and relentless build through the finale was as dramatic as it was engaging – a chance for the RLPO to prove itself in a concert which lacked highlights.

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