Contrasting Romeo & Juliet Music from RSNO

09/11/2015

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Tchaikovsky, Khachaturian, Prokofiev: Xiayin Wang (piano), Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Peter Oundjian (conductor), Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 6.11.2015 (SRT)

Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
Khachaturian: Piano Concerto
Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet (selected movements)

This concert focused on two contrasting Russian interpretations of Romeo and Juliet: Tchaikovsky’s symphonic poem and Prokofiev’s vibrant ballet music.  Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy Overture can sometimes become a presentation of contrasting sections, but what impressed me about Peter Oundjian’s reading was that it had a palpable narrative arc, moving through the moody, weary opening section through to a quietly moving coda, and climaxing on a surging, vibrant take on the love theme, the strings pulsating with romantic (and Romantic) energy.

That sense of narrative was, perhaps, easier to conjure up in Prokofiev’s score, but the orchestral colour made it just as involving.  The music for the young Juliet tripped along delicately, and the love music of the Balcony Scene sounded beautifully rich, more moving even than Juliet’s death scene, with beautiful winds and sensational cellos.  The most memorable moments, however, were those associated with the rivalry between the Montagues and Capulets, be it the ominous mood of the opening quarrel or, best of all, the breathless energy of the music surrounding Tybalt’s and Mercutio’s death; a hair-raising climax during which the whole orchestra upped their game.

Xiayin Wang was last at the RSNO for the Copland and Barber concertos (which she recorded with them for Chandos).  It’s impressive that she seems to go for the less familiar repertoire with them, and the Khachaturian concerto suits her very well.  She has all the technique (and chutzpah) required for the larger-than-life opening, but she achieves it with remarkable stillness and, repeatedly, the thing that struck me most was the sense of poetry to her performance, finding the lyricism under the flamboyance, and achieving some really beautiful lines, for example in the outer sections of the slow movement which really came to life under her hands.

The orchestra, too, seemed to relish the challenge of this piece.  The opening didn’t get carried away with itself but had a sense of propulsion, like something huge moving steadily forwards, a big string sound giving way to beautifully discrete winds for the folk-inspired second theme.  Their tone matched Wang’s for beauty in the slow movement, and their exciting finale was impressively precise.  It was just a shame you could hardly hear the flexatone in the Andante.  They are due to record the work for Chandos, however, and they’ll surely work on that by then.  The results will be worth looking out for.

Simon Thompson

 

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Aldeburgh Festival from 12 – 28 June 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2020 from 29 April to 16 May in Leicester __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Barbican __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and more in Buenos Aires during 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Southbank Centre __________________________________
  • NEW! Saffron Hall in February – August 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2020 – Gluck’s Paris and Helen __________________________________
  • NEW! Surrey’s Grange Park Opera in 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Leeds Lieder Concert Series 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera in 2019-2020 and New Artistic Director __________________________________
  • UPDATED! ENB in 2019-2020 and Opening of their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH CHINESE SOPRANO HUI HE __________________________________
  • NEW AND UPDATED! BEST OF 2019 FROM SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR TOM HAMMOND IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Ballet Icons Gala 2020 at the London Coliseum on 26 January __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR HERVÉ NIQUET INTERVIEWED ABOUT GRÉTRY’S RICHARD, COEUR DE LION __________________________________
  • PIANIST JAMES LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ANGELA GHEORGHIU IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NOW REVIEWED! MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO AND JULIET IN CINEMAS FROM 22 OCTOBER __________________________________
  • REVIEWED! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month