Review Chopin’s 2nd Piano Concerto Philharmonia, Royal Festival Hall, London by James Ellis 

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

It was soon time to wrap up another hectic trip to London, I’ve been all over for this one, havinge seen some marvellous shows and also learned some things along the way. No two trips are ever the same and this one will certainly remain memorable. 

The Philharmonia gave a lush afternoon concert with Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv. Being a massive advocate for music around the world, no doubt the past year has been a lot for her.  When the marvellous conducting is this balletic and rousing you can only be lost in the music. Opening with a composer from her homeland: Borys Lyatoshynsky and his Grazhyna is anew venture for me. It painted a wonderful folk-like picture, the story of the Lithuanian princess who dies in battle had many fine moments for brass, the woodwind in other moments felt quite special. No doubt this was hand picked by Oksana, more from Lyatoshynsky is highly encouraged. A telling concert opener.   

Benjamin Grosvenor joined the players for an impeccable performance of Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto. For such a young age, he brings out so much of the piece. The uncluttered, simple harmony of the music, the piano. To always leading the orchestra but rather a symmetry and state of flux. Benjamin showed of busy fingers as expected with Chopin, the lovely Larghetto remained a fine feat, the softness and sincerity shines through. This went down well, more explorations into Chopin’s world would be encouraged, as most would only recognise his slight solo piano selections. 

Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, known as the ‘Pathétique’ would leave us as the final curtain, Oksana holding command and respect over all these players who gave an impressive performance. The Russian composer’s angst is poured all over this piece, some of the most stirring string writing with that unforgettable cascading scale is a huge feature. There are moments of joy, though they don’t last forever. I’d say this was his finest symphonic creation, dying a few days after conducting its premier. Some in the audience embarrassed themselves by mistaking the penultimate moment as a violent finale, though things went straight into the soul searching Adagio lamentoso. This piercing showing really did make a mark and this conductor is proving to be a rightful success story, with an always shining orchestra.

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