BBC Philharmonic An American Adventure at Bridgewater Hall Review

BridgewaterHallBBC Philharmonic
An American Adventure
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

13 November 2015


Reviewed by Ann Durrell

Billed as a tribute to Leonard Bernstein, the programme for the evening was put together with the conductor for the event Yutaka Sado. Yutaka worked with Bernstein and is seen as one of his protégé. The programme consisted of Bernstein’s symphony no 1 ‘Jeremiah’, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 17 in G Major and finally Schumann’s Symphony No 2 in C Major. The BBC Philharmonic were joined by Rebecca Evans the Soprano for ‘Jeremiah’ and Ronald Brautigam on Piano for Mozart’s Concerto in G Major.

The first piece of the evening was Bernstein’s Symphony No1 which is in three movements, Prophecy, Profanation and Lamentation. Prophecy felt ominous, almost like a death march, very dark and certainly different to the only Bernstein music I had heard previously. The second movement was much more familiar to me, it was more jazzy and I could pick out the wood block used throughout parts of West Side Story. I would not say it was more upbeat as it does keep to the Symphony’s theme of foreboding. The final movement starts with the orchestra alone, until the introduction of the Soprano, Rebecca Evans singing passages from the biblical Lamentations of Jeremiah in the original Hebrew. Evans sung the piece beautifully and with real passion. Even before she began you could see that she was really feeling the movement and the whole audience was transfixed to the stage. I do not have any knowledge of the language but her pronunciation I thought was superb and I was following along to the words in the programme.

The second piece of the evening, Mozart’s Piano Concerto, was definitely my favourite of the evening. For me sometimes the piano can sound rather harsh but this was so soothing and played fabulously by Ronald Brautigam supported by the BBC Philharmonic. The first two movements are gentle and the finale much faster. The string section certainly had their work cut out and performed it faultlessly. The evening was finished by Schumann’s Symphony No2 which is in four movements. I found it uplifting, which on reading the troubles in the composer’s life when it was written could be deemed as quite surprising.

Yutaka Sado’s conducting throughout was excellent, directing and guiding the Orchestra throughout with great skill. I loved his enthusiasm giving a little jump during the faster paced pieces and crouching down when he wanted the piece played in a more gentle way. I could not find fault either with any part of the Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic are outstanding and are certainly worth seeing live on stage. Live is the optimum way of listening to classical music in my opinion.

The Bridgewater Hall is a great venue, the acoustics are second to none and I would recommend to anyone, classical lovers or otherwise to visit.

Rating: 5/5 thumbs_up

For other performances by the BBC Philharmonic at Bridgewater Hall visit www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk.

The Bridgewater Hall, Lower Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3WS | 0161 907 9000


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