Matthew Trusler and Eduardo Portal join the RPO at Cadogan Hall
Featuring British violinist Matthew Trusler and Spanish maestro Eduardo Portal, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra treated classical music enthusiasts at Cadogan Hall to an eclectic mix of orchestral music from four different countries. With the winter weather not yet looking to stand down, Sloane Square’s iconic concert hall provided the perfect occasion to escape the bitter cold air.
Mikhail Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila Overture is known for its fiery, fast-paced propulsion, and has always been a popular work to open a concert in style. There was certainly no hanging about tonight, as Portal waved his baton with relentless conviction and charged through the Russian composer’s famous opera overture. The RPO’s response failed to quite match the energetic spirit of Portal, but renewed the firework atmosphere with an exuberant final passage.
The Arctic sounds of Finland drifted through the concert hall in Jean Sibelius’ emblematic Violin Concerto. British virtuoso Trusler unwound the opening thread of melody from his violin with sheer delicacy, and navigated his way through the stormy musical journey with majestic lyricism and energy above the brooding backdrop of the orchestra. Apart from the occasional blemish in intonation, Trusler conveyed the Finnish composer’s evocative concerto to tremendous effect. The sparkling first movement cadenza and fiery third movement in particular showcased the magnitude of his technical finesse.
A poignant and mournful cast rippled through the air in the second half, as the heavens shined a spotlight on the RPO strings’ performance of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. With rich evocative harmonies, powerful string body and intense emotional resonance felt in the surroundings, the orchestra delivered a stirring performance that could hardly leave a dry eye. As the woodwinds, brass and timpani returned to their seats, the stage was set for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. Despite being overshadowed by his other symphonic triumphs such as Eroica and the Choral Symphony, Portal and the RPO asserted the grandeur of Beethoven’s seventh symphonic epic and took the Cadogan Hall audience through a musical roller coaster from the opening decisive string chords to melodic exchanges between the winds. While at times the orchestra lacked gusto and urgency, they ignited an indestructible blast of energy in the final movement, and triggered a rapturous ovation from the audience.
Photo: Berardo Berástegui
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