(c) Andy Paradise

On Tuesday 15 August, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra made its annual appearance at the BBC Proms with a sell-out concert of Ligeti, Beethoven and Shostakovich, with Music Director Vasily Petrenko conducting and soloist Alexandre Kantorow, who made his Proms debut.

Listen back on BBC Sounds

Read on to see photos, reviews and audience reactions from the night.

Photos (c) Andy Paradise unless otherwise stated.


The concert marks the third year in a row Vasily Petrenko conducted the RPO at the BBC Proms since he became the Orchestra's Music Director. This was Vasily's 16th appearance at the Proms overall. (c) RPO/Tim Lutton

 Pianist Alexandre Kantorow won the coveted first prize and Grand Prix in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2019. (c) RPO/Tim Lutton

The concert opened with Ligeti's Lontano, a composer whose 100th anniversary is being celebrated at the BBC Proms this year. Lontano ('In the Distance') features what the composer described as “harmonic crystallisation”, which uses dense polyphony to create a haze of orchestral harmony and complex texture.

This was followed by Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.4 with Alexandre Kantorow, a pianist who has been praised by The Guardian for "wonderfully fluid and mercurially expressive playing."

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"Vasily Petrenko and the RPO went on to give a tailor-made accompaniment to Alexandre Kantorow, his sensitive and poetic introduction to Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto pointing the way to a lyrical reading of this wondrous work." Colin's Column

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"He wove a kind of magic at the keyboard, with playing full of tenderness and a sound that shimmered somewhere in the ether. There was a true sense of conversation between orchestra and piano." The Times

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Alexandre played a piano arrangement of music from Stravinsky's The Firebird for the encore.

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The second half of the concert featured Shostakovich's Symphony No.10, composed before and after the death of Stalin, an event that lifted a weight from Shostakovich's shoulders. The symphony contains not only Shostakovich's own musical motif, 'DSCH', but also the musical signature of Elmira Nazirova, one of his composition pupils.

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"The orchestra certainly gave its all, and there was some wonderful solo playing; the huge, world-weary sound of bassoonist Richard Ion was especially affecting." The Telegraph

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Absolutely brilliant playing tonight @royalphilorch & Petrenko were on fire 🔥 brilliant brilliant brilliant!!!

— Rosemary Scales (@musicGKs) August 16, 2023



Instagram reactions

The concert is available to listen to until Monday 9 October 2023.

Listen back on BBC Sounds

In the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's 2023–24 season, Vasily Petrenko conducts music by Elgar, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, and Verdi at the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Albert Hall.

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