RSNO Brings Impressive Grandeur in Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony


United KingdomUnited Kingdom Sibelius, Grieg, Nielsen: Christian Ihle Hadland (piano), Royal Scottish National Orchestra, John Storgårds (conductor), Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 01.05.2015 (SRT)

Sibelius: Nightride and Sunrise
Grieg: Piano Concerto
Nielsen: Symphony No. 4 The Inextinguishable


For the second weekend in a row, the RSNO gave us Nordic music with a Nordic maestro, only this week it was the Finnish John Storgårds in charge rather than the Danish Thomas Søndergård from last week.  Storgårds has played in Edinburgh before, but I’ve only ever heard him with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.  He has clearly struck up a good relationship with the RSNO, though, because their playing for him exuded trust and a sense of being willing to follow him.  That was most evident in Nielsen’s prickly Fourth Symphony, which had such an explosive beginning that it felt like being dropped into the middle of a chemical reaction!  The orchestra rode the great arch of Nielsen’s score with impressive grandeur, culminating in a blazingly positive final wave.  However, this wasn’t just about fireworks, though the timpani battle of the finale was mighty impressive.  Instead Storgårds carefully controlled the build-up and release of tension so that the ebb and flow of the music sounded perfectly natural: what lay between the peaks mattered just as much as the climaxes.  My Nielsen conversion continues apace: last week was no fluke!

Nightride and Sunrise, meanwhile, is Sibelius’ nature painting at its very best, and his organic way with rhythm suits the image of the steadily changing sky very well.  The RSNO brass (particularly the horns) really outdid themselves at the moment of the sunrise itself, glowing marvellously and underpinned with massive strength, but the preceding section had its great touches, too, and I enjoyed the way that the incessant rhythm of the riding never became monotonous but was always shot through with various flecks of colour.  The orchestra were also on top form for the evergreen Grieg concerto, strings made in heaven in the slow movement; full, focused and totally on the note as well as the spirit.  Christian Ihle Hadland matched them well in the second and third movements, the overt theatricals of the finale suiting him best of all.  The first movement was not a success, however. He opened the work with a self-conscious air, and he repeatedly seemed to be pushing the tempo forwards, unwilling to fit with what Storgårds was trying to do.  Furthermore, the calmer section at the start of the cadenza was distended to the point where it almost sounded grotesque.  Technically Hadland is a good pianist but, while there is a lot of potential, I’m not sure that he is yet a good collaborator.

Simon Thompson



Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

  • NEW! BBC Proms turns 125 years old – 17 July to 12 September 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera North in 2020-2021 – postponements and plans __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Glyndebourne Festival Opera opens for a 2020 summer season __________________________________
  • NEW! Baritone Federico Longhi’s Rigoletto is part of Parma’s June Verdian renaissance __________________________________
  • NEW! 69th Wexford Festival Opera – 11 to 18 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Dresden’s Semperoper reopens with Anna Netrebko on 19 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in 2020-21 __________________________________
  • NEW! LMP’s first UK chamber orchestra performances since Covid-19 struck __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Lieder Festival – 10-17 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Metropolitan Opera (2020–)2021 season update __________________________________
  • NEW! Royal Opera House announces first live concert since beginning of lockdown __________________________________
  • NEW! Semi-staged Das Rheingold on Deutsche Oper Berlin’s parking deck from 12 June __________________________________
  • NEW! A breath of fresh air: Opera Holland Park announces 2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2020 Found Season – 4 June to 12 July __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2020 Salzburg Festival – 1 to 30 August __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival’s 2020 online series of concerts and talks __________________________________
  • The Singapore Symphony in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Musikfest Berlin 2020 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! We’ll be back! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra weathering the Covid-19 storm __________________________________
  • NEW! World Ballet School Day – inaugural edition 7 July 2020 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Longborough Festival Opera launches podcast and extraordinary generosity of the audience __________________________________
  • NEW! The Music Critics Association of North America Best New Opera Award to Blue __________________________________
  • NEW! Lincoln Center honors Pride with a light installation on its iconic plaza __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020): Did we really need Vera Lynn during the war? __________________________________
  • NEW! What price Sherlock Holmes? __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC to show the ROH’s first post-lockdown performance and their other recent music news __________________________________
  • NEW! Woody Allen comes back fighting with a book and A Rainy Day in New York __________________________________
  • NEW! Educating Rita, says who? __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – postponed __________________________________
  • NEW! Need to escape reality? Enter into the magical world of composer David Hertzberg __________________________________
  • NEW! BTHVN2020 – Beethoven anniversary goes into overtime __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month