Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Vasily Petrenko Alison Balsom

Symphony No.100 in G (Military)
Trumpet Concerto in E flat
The Creatures of Prometheus, Op.43 – Overture
Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op.67

Alison Balsom (trumpet)

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko

Reviewed by: Glyn Môn Hughes

Reviewed: 17 September, 2009
Venue: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

Alison BalsomThe Classic FM series at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic does tend to err on the side of caution though there are some challenges ahead. The next concert combines Glazunov’s Chopiniana, Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra, Kilar’s Orawa and Chopin Second Piano Concerto. However, for the first night of this particular season-within-a-season, to combine Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto – with Alison Balsom fresh from the Last Night of the Proms – was sure to have the audience calling out for more.

Vasily Petrenko took the Beethoven symphony at a furious pace, almost with an eye on the record-books and trying to outdo Toscanini. Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic made this a very personal performance. A stolid second movement subsided into some highly subtle pizzicato-playing in the third movement, leading to what turned into a joyfully playful finale. Prior to the symphony there was a sprightly, though robust overture to The Creatures of Prometheus, Beethoven’s sole ballet score.

Vasily Petrenko. Photograph: Mark McNulty More humour in the first half, with Haydn’s ‘Military’ Symphony. An elegant opening led into a frivolous performance, with only the Allegretto showing any particular signs of seriousness. Some great moments for percussion, too – called the “hit squad” in the programme note. But it was the refined performance by Alison Balsom which stole the show. A brilliantly controlled cadenza in the first movement of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto led through the lyrical and, in this performance, perhaps a little introverted, slow movement and into another fun-packed finale. Her encore was Debussy’s Syrinx, written in 1912 for flute. No doubts that it works on trumpet, too, in this finely evocative performance of a piece as haunting as it is brimming with mystery.

There was no doubt about this concert. It was another celebration, an explosion of exuberance.

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