MUSIC RLPO/ Morlot/ Philharmonic Hall; Culture Diary.
IN MANY ways, this was a voyage of discovery.
It was, for many, an exploration of unknown works. It was a trip around sacred, celestial sounds which - in themselves - constituted a voyage into uncharted territory.
And then there was Honegger's Pacific 231. For the train buffs among us, 231 alludes to the wheel arrangement of a steam locomotive. Honegger - himself fascinated by railways - turned the whole ceremony of the departure of a train into a miniature so full of energy and passion. He joins, of course, so many other composers - Britten, Vivien Ellis amongst others - inspired by trains. And why not?
This performance, which featured a steamed-up, firebreathing Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of an extremely energetic Frenchman by the name of Ludovic Morlot, brought this piece to life. It's under ten minutes long but this performance was bursting with life - from the idling of a locomotive in the platform to the speedy trail through the countryside.
At totally the other end of the musical spectrum, the concert included a performance of Messiaen's first orchestral work, Les Offrandes Oubliees. Here was a typically Messiaen work, moving from slow, almost pained meditation, to total frenzy.
Notable, in this performance, were the highly charged, pianissimo moments - culminating in the long silence at the work's conclusion.
Antal Szalai was soloist in Glazunov's A minor Violin Concerto. There was a gentle, almost ineffective opening which led into a quite stunning cadenza of which the soloist could be proud. This led into a somewhat dull final section, though the trumpets and violins helped save the overall performance.
The concert concluded with Cesar Franck's D minor Symphony. Here, it's possible to hear much of his organ output transferred to orchestra - in particular the soul-searching Chorales.
The slow and languid opening transferred into an exploration which evoked Franck's often forward-looking musical language. The delightful counterpoint in the middle allegretto was deliciously understated while the fast finale - with that tune - brought the night to a triumphal conclusion.