Still going strong at 70: the RPO celebrates in style


Who would you want to put in the grand pantheon of British music? Composers? Unquestionably. Soloists? Undoubtedly. And then there’s a certain Sir Thomas Beecham, whose contribution to British musical life is unparalleled. He founded two of London’s great orchestras as well as having a lustful eye on a third. Not the least of his attributes was a roguish charm that gave voice to a plethora of anecdotes and bon mots which continue to delight us today.

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Prom 25: Dvořák and Bartók


Charles Dutoit was a wizard, conjuring up all the darksome effects of Bartók's Duke Bluebeard’s Castle

Singular in every sense, standing out from the rest of the operatic literature and as Bartók’s only work for the lyric stage, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle is perhaps the opera most suited of all to presentation in the Royal Albert Hall. The work’s stage directions stipulate “an enormous round gothic hall”, there is almost no action and the orchestra plays as strong a role as the two protagonists. way.

Prom 25: RPO/Dutoit at the Royal Albert Hall


If there was a theme to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert with the veteran conductor Charles Dutoit it was not a happy one. Here was Bartók, a collector of folk songs red and raw, with an opera as black as night and a fairytale without a fairytale ending. Here was Dvorák, a faithful husband and father of nine, remembering his late first love in music as soft and clear as sunlight through leaves. What do his Cello Concerto and Duke Bluebeard’s Castle have in common? Three words: leave me alone.

Prom 25: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Dutoit – Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle with Ildikó Komlósi & John Relyea – Alban Gerhardt plays Dvořák’s Cello Concerto


“The tale is old / That shall be told”. John Relyea has one of those voices that seem to come from a couple of hundred metres underground. Speaking the Prologue to Bartók's Bluebeard´s Castle, Relyea had us gasping, so volcanic did it sound. It was delivered in English, which was a pity, especially as the Ildikó Komlósi made a point of telling us in the programme how good Relyea’s Hungarian pronunciation is.

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