Valses nobles et sentimentales
Les Nuits d’été, Op.7
Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.78, “avec orgue”
Susan Graham (mezzo-soprano)
Stephen Disley (Royal Festival Hall organ)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Reviewed by: Alan Sanders
Reviewed: 14 May, 2014
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Royal Festival Hall
Charles Dutoit (just returned from an unexpected Boston Symphony tour to China and Japan replacing Lorin Maazel) is an experienced hand with the music of Saint-Saëns, and he conducted an exemplary performance of the Third Symphony, with enthusiastic playing from the RPO. The newly restored and magnificent Royal Festival Hall organ, with Stephen Disley at the controls, ensured a rousing climax in the final part of the work. It was all absolutely as it should have been, but in some indefinable way this reading didn’t quite take fire as it had done previously with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the London Philharmonic. Maybe the work is just too familiar to Dutoit to ensure a completely fresh response from him.
Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales is less frequently played at a concert than his other orchestral scores, and it was good to hear this delicious, charming and occasionally ironic piece. Dutoit’s conducting brought out all the music’s delicate facets very surely, but he was not always rewarded with the most refined playing.