Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Review – Hull City Hall
By Karl Hornsey, February 2022
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra returned to Hull City Hall for a varied and enchanting concert on the theme of ‘Magic and Fairytales’, under the baton of their principal associate conductor Alexander Shelley.
The opening piece of the evening was Mendelssohn’s ‘Overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream’, which stands as one of the most remarkable pieces by a young conductor, given that he wrote it at the tender age of just 17 years old. The famous Wedding March was written several years later and is still a staple of nuptials to this day, but it was special to hear it live, along with the scherzo and nocturne.
Then it was the turn of Japanese virtuoso Fumiaki Miura to take to the stage for Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No 2, complete with his 1704 Stradivarius. And, as conductor Shelley pointed out, there’s little use having such a wonderful instrument without someone who can do it justice, and Miura more than delivered to provide a thrilling finale to the first half.
Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite opening the second half and you’d be hard pushed to find a more beautiful, gentle and lyrical piece, so befitting of the fairytale theme. On the face of it, the suite is a curious one, incorporating as it does the pavane from Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb, the Empress of the Pagodas and the Conversations of Beauty and the Beast, but its charm perfectly encapsulates the magic of childhood memories.
From there, it was on to the finale of the evening, and with the exception of the Wedding March, possibly the most well-known piece – Stravinsky’s Firebird. Conductor Shelley took the time to explain the story of what was about to unfold, which helped the audience enormously in appreciating the music. It’s all about the classic fairytale battle between good and evil, with dark moments of peril ultimately leading to a happy ending, as the Firebird and Prince Ivan, the hero of the hour, contrive to defeat the dastardly Koschei the Immortal. That’s the story, but the spellbinding music was enough to carry you away into distant realms, building to a wonderful and tumultuous ending.
The Royal Philharmonic will return to the City Hall in March and June this year as part of another excellent schedule of Hull City Hall Classics concerts.