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Beautifully Judged

MIKE WHEELER draws attention to
the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Orchestra


If the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Orchestra and their second principal conductor Robertas Servenikas regularly produce music-making of this calibre then we should all be sitting up and taking notice. They gave their programme of three very popular favourites with no fuss, no undue razzmatazz or playing to the gallery, simply offering good, honest performances that put the music first (Assembly Rooms, Derby, UK, 15 November 2007).

The overture to Rossini's William Tell got a reading that combined brisk, no-nonsense energy and a poetic sense of atmosphere.

Freddy Kempf was the soloist in a refreshingly thoughtful, intelligent performance of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto, playing with the kind of virtuosity that serves the music rather than drawing attention to itself. He and the orchestra together took us to the quiet expressive heart of the work in a way that made the big rhetorical moments, such as the climax to the finale, all the more effective. The performance received one of the most enthusiastic responses I've ever seen from an Assembly Rooms audience, and quite right, too.

Dvorák's Ninth Symphony got a performance of similar integrity, with beautifully judged tempos. In particular, a refusal to wallow in nostalgia in the second movement made it all the more touching.

Copyright © 20 November 2007 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK


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