Hull City Hall Classics, Royal Philharmonic – Live Review – Hull City Hall
By Karl Hornsey, October 2019
The latest Hull City Hall Classics season continued with a blend of Italian and German orchestral favourites, played by the Royal Philharmonic, who were joined by acclaimed violinist Francesca Dego and under the baton of Gianluca Marciano.
Rossini could always be relied upon to produce explosive pieces and a huge body of operatic works, and the concert opened with the overture from his comic opera The Girl from Algiers. Without taking anything away from the rest of the evening, this piece was the highlight for me, rattling along at breakneck speed to a wonderful climax, with the sounds of the oboe and bassoon beautifully to the fore. With quality such as this, it’s easy to see why Rossini’s operas are finally gaining him the acclaim they deserve.
This was followed by Giuseppe Martucci’s ‘Nocturne, Op 70 No 1’, continuing the Italian theme of the first part of the concert. Martucci is certainly less well-known than the likes of Rossini, but stood out as a rarity in Italy, in that he eschewed the lure of writing operas, preferring instead to concentrate on instrumental music and songs. This light and soulful piece is regarded as his most popular orchestral work, originally composed for piano, but here played delightfully by the whole of the orchestra.
The first German element of the evening brought to the stage one of the most sought after young international violinists in Francesca Dego, for Bruch’s ‘Violin Concerto No 1’. Again, Bruch may not have a place at the top table when it comes to composers, but much of his continued fame and renown rests on this piece, which is regarded as one of the popular Romantic violin concertos out there. It’s certainly one that showcased Dego’s not inconsiderable talents, unleashing the full range of the instrument, either in solo moments or when accompanied by the woodwind section, the French horns or the ebb and flow of the whole orchestra.
The final piece of the evening was one of Beethoven’s most-loved works, his ‘Symphony No 3’, or ‘Eroica’. This piece was one of Beethoven’s personal favourites – so much so that he dedicated it to Napoleon, whom at the time he considered to be something of a man of the people. Once Napoleon revealed his true colours, however, Beethoven had a rather dramatic, yet understandable change of heart, and dedicated it instead to Prince Franz-Joseph von Lobkowitz, the rather less well-known and certainly less volatile Bohemian aristocrat. This much-loved symphony was certainly safe in the hands of conductor Gianluca Marciano, who proved wonderfully engaging, energetic and effervescent all evening, full of theatrical flourishes that made him hard to take one’s eyes off, even given the quality of the music on offer from such a talented orchestra of musicians.