A hymn to a pure and noble spirit: bracing Prokofiev from Dutoit and the RPO

BACHTRACK ★★★

With combined ages of over 150 years between conductor and soloist, there was no lack of experience on the platform for this Royal Philharmonic Orchestra concert. There was no lack of energy either. Charles Dutoit, as dapper as ever, injected Berlioz and Prokofiev with swagger, while Elisabeth Leonskaja, a pianist firmly of the Russian old school, kneaded the keyboard into submission in an occasionally bruising account of Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor.

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Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Dutoit at Royal Festival Hall – Benvenuto Cellini & Prokofiev 5 – Elisabeth Leonskaja plays Grieg’s Piano Concerto

CLASSICAL SOURCE

From the opening bars of the Overture to Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini, you couldn’t help marvelling at London’s extraordinary good fortune in its big five orchestras and in their chief conductors. I suppose Charles Dutoit (recently turned eighty) must now be regarded as a veteran, but there is no sense of him compensating self-consciously with the gathering years, as Solti did towards the end of his career.

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Triumph of the human spirit: defiance and compassion from Marin Alsop and RPO

BACHTRACK ★★★★

The human spirit is a remarkable phenomenon. It gives us the power to dig deep into our reserves to find resilience and defiance against unimaginable odds. Witness the extraordinary circumstances behind the first Leningrad performance of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony in 1942.

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Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Marin Alsop at Royal Festival Hall – Fanfare for the Common Man & Leningrad Symphony – Renaud Capuçon plays Mendelssohn

CLASSICAL SOURCE

What do you programme with Shostakovich’s epic ‘Leningrad’ Symphony? Since it lasts seventy minutes or longer options are limited. However the presence of cohorts of brass made Fanfare for the Common Man a good choice, then add in Mendelssohn’s evergreen Violin Concerto with a popular soloist.

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