Making an Effort

To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also. – Igor Stravinsky

7th July, 2016 -Vasily Petrenko celebrates 10 years with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

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Conductor: Vasily Petrenko

Cello: Truls Mørk

Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

Venue: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

Elgar: In the South

Shostakovitch: Cello Concerto No.1

Rachmaninov: Symphony No.3

Vasily Petrenko first conducted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) in 2004. After this, he was announced in July 2005 to be their principal conductor for the following 06-07 season. Ten years down the line, the relationship between conductor and orchestra seems just as strong as ever. During his time as conductor, his title has changed to Chief conductor, they have made numerous recordings including the Shostakovitch and Rachmaninov symphonies. (They’ve just released a recording of 3 Tchaikovsky symphonies.) Petrenko currently has an open ended contract with RLPO with the conductor needing to give 3 years notice if the contract is to come to a conclusion.

Truls Mørk is a Norwegian cellist born to a cellist father and pianist mother. He won  prizes in several competitions and embarked on a career performing internationally, including a tour with Oslo Philharmonic. Unfortunately, he fell ill and for a couple of years was unable to perform due to a rare form of encephlaitis affecting his nervous system causing paralysis of his shoulder. After treatment and physiotherapy,he returned to the stage. He recorded both Shostakovitch concertos 1&2 with Petrenko and Oslo Philharmonic. He will be performing at the Proms this year with RLPO in prom 53 and next year he will tour Asia with Petrenko and the Oslo Philharmonic next year in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Seoul.

Elgar ‘In the South (Alassio)’

This piece of music is named ‘Alassio’ after the town in Northern Italy where Elgar went on holiday with his family. He was inspired by the history and beauty of the area and so wrote this piece. Elgar conducted the premiere himself with the Hallé Orchestra at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London at the Elgar Festival.

Shostakovitch: Cello Concerto No.1

Shostakovitch wrote this cello concerto in 1959 for Rostropovitch who performed the premiere with Mravinsky conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. It is considered one of the most difficult pieces written for cello. The first movement is played separately. The second, third and fourth movements are performed continuously.

Sol Gabetta performing Shostakovitch Cello Concerto No.1

Truls Møk performing Shostakovitch Cello Concerto No. 2

<p><a href=”″>SHOSTAKOVICH'S Cello Concerto No 2 – M&oslash;rk/Roth</a> from <a href=””>G&ouml;teborgs Symfoniker</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Rachmaninov: Symphony No.3

This symphony was premiered by Leopold Stokowski with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1936.

This was an amazing performance, each time I come back to hear RLPO perform, I am always surprised about what I hear that is different than what I’ve heard performed live before or from recordings. Having said that I’m probably more distracting doing other things while listening to a recording. The Elgar piece was played beautifully, conjuring images of the Italian Riviera with hints of romanticism. There was a wonderful viola solo in the middle of the piece. Truls Mørk came onstage and performed Shostakovitch’s cello concerto with energy and you could hear the distinct DSCH pattern throughout. The highlight for me was Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.3. I really felt like there were parts of this piece that I had just never noticed before. The transitions from one section to another were seamless, yet made you notice the echo of the melody. The phrasing was precise – a hallmark of Petrenko’s work and conducting. The sections were noticeably tight – musicians working hard to produce a concert of high quality! At the end, Petrenko did his ‘Do you want an encore?’ to the audience, increasing the applause and cheers. We were given a fun encore of ‘Tea for Two’ with Petrenko conducting it in his fun and comical way. After this, there was much applause and the orchestra played ‘Happy Birthday!’ to Petrenko and his beautiful family (wife, son and very cute daughter – all in matching blue outfits) appeared onstage with a cake with four candles (one for each decade) at which point the audience gave him a standing ovation!

This was a great concert, made even better for me as I was able to attend with my best friend from school, Ju and we had also met Irina earlier for dinner at The Philharmonic Dining Rooms. Irina had just flown over that morning from Moscow to attend this concert. As I always say, this orchestra and conductor are definitely worth travelling a great distance for – and I look forward to seeing them perform together next year at the White Nights concert – the ticket has already been bought!


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