Vasily Petrenko and the RLPO brought a judiciously chosen programme of the familiar and the less well known for their appearance at this year’s Proms. Given the magisterial playing of the orchestra and Petrenko’s deep understanding of all three works, it became clear why this partnership has garnered laurels across the musical spectrum in recent years.
Taking Byron’s Romantic superhero as its theme, the evening began with the first ever performance at the Proms of Schumann’s Manfred overture, orchestrated by Mahler. Petrenko drew wonderful colours from all sections of the orchestra with the strings impressing the most, with the whole work being infused with a headlong sense of propulsion.
Simon Trpceski was the soloist in Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor and he delivered a monumental performance of this hugely popular work. Tempestuous in the first movement, reflective and pensive in the second and coping brilliantly with the fiendishly difficult writing in the last movement, his was a towering interpretation. Petrenko and the orchestra were sensitive and alert accompanists. Indeed the only thing to mar the performance was the ignorant applause that some idiots felt necessary at the end of the first movement.
Again, after the wonderfully impassioned first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Manfred there was ill-judged applause, much to the chagrin of the conductor. There has been a steady decline in the behaviour of audiences at the Proms but it seems to be getting worse. Unwarranted applause breaks the mood of the piece but at this concert these morons seemed intent on destroying any atmosphere that conductor and orchestra were trying to create. The beautifully sculpted lines of the last movement didn’t have time to die away before someone started clapping Petrenko hadn’t even lowered his baton. I pity any musician having to put up with such philistinism on the part of the audience. Despite this, the RLPO played their hearts out throughout, and gave a coruscating performance under the inspired direction of their young music director.