RPO/Dutoit review – dexterity and refinement


Charles Dutoit’s Prom with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was Shostakovich’s 15th Symphony – his most cryptic, some would say. Written in 1971, when the composer’s health was already failing, it’s a terminal, introverted, bitterly funny piece that draws its listeners into a world of riddles, allusions and private jokes as its themes morph into other men’s music – notably Rossini’s and Wagner’s – or into other works by Shostakovich himself. No other symphony yields up its secrets quite so obdurately; arguments about its meaning are legion.


Prom 45 All is vanity: Dutoit and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's take on Shostakovich 15


This month sees the 40th anniversary of the death of the 20th century’s most versatile composer, Dmitri Shostakovich. How appropriate, therefore, that the RPO under its principal conductor Charles Dutoit marked the event with the composer’s last symphony, a summation of his life’s work.

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Prom 45: Leonskaja, RPO, Dutoit


Drawing an audience of five and a half thousand in to listen intently is harder than pushing out into the vasts of the Albert Hall. Yet it’s what seems to work best in this unpredictable space, and last night masterful veterans Elisabeth Leonskaja and Charles Dutoit knew exactly what to do. The results were romantic introspection in Mozart - an unfashionable but valid alternative to authentic sprightliness - and a Shostakovich Fifteenth Symphony that was more skull than skin, but a compellingly decorated skull for all that.

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Prom 32: RPO / Whitacre @ Royal Albert Hall, London


“It’s like Carmina Burana on steroids” was how Eric Whitacre introduced his filmic piece Equus at Sunday afternoon’s family-friendly all-American Prom. Whitacre has great charisma, and engages well with his audience – both in the flesh and via his online presence. 

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