Orchestre de la Suisse Romande at the Royal Festival Hall
Internationally renowned Geneva-based ensemble, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, pays a rare visit to London five years shy of their centenary in 2018. The orchestra’s artistic director is Neeme Jarvi, the well-travelled Estonian conductor who had previously held the same post with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
The first piece is a recent composition (2009) by Jarvi’s compatriot Arvo Pärt, Silhouette (Hommage à Gustave Eiffel) for percussion and string orchestra. The strings are glorious, yet the percussion feels intrusive and unsubtle. This is most likely down to the work itself rather than the players, as evidenced by the later display of their skill. The Grieg Piano Concerto in A Minor is among the most popular of all piano concerti, and is enthusiastically received by a near-full Festival Hall. The exceptional Russian pianist Boris Berezovsky shows a delicate touch that belies his large frame, and the is crescendo admirably handled by his virtuosic ability.
The centrepiece, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor never fails to elicit a forlorn aspect owing to the composer’s death nine days after its first performance (possibly suicide owing to the fear of exposure of his then illegal homosexuality). The progression of the work’s funereal air, from the soaring cellos of the second movement’s allegro to the final adagio’s lament, never fails to evoke an emotive response. And so it is here, the joy and despair of the symphony, agilely imparted by the consummate control of Jarvi’s conducting.
The final encore has a short canon in A minor, again by Arvo Pärt, Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, which provides a stirringly beautiful Baltic ending to the evening’s entertainment. An expeditious return would be welcomed.
Photos: Jas Sansi
For further information and future events visit Orchestra de la Suisse Romande’s website here.