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Orchestra's return a joy for all music aficionados.

ROYAL Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Sage Gateshead Chief conductor Vasily Petrenko brought his Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra here 12 months ago to play exquisite music written by fellow Russian Sergei Rachmaninov.

This was a welcome second helping of the composer's grand works from popular visitors.

In a performance far removed from their most recent visit in July, supporting the Bootleg Beatles in their Sgt Pepper/ Summer of Love concert, the Merseyside musicians offered majestic interpretations of two wildly different symphonies.

Rachmaninov's 2nd, in that classic Romantic style so familiar to followers of Russian music, is very well known in parts and supremely easy to listen to.

It lasts a full hour but fairly flies by as tuneful melody follows tuneful melody, each seemingly trying to outdo the last.

It's a tale of triumph over failure and Petrenko took his musicians through the work effortlessly, bringing out all its beauty.

That rang especially true in the famous Adagio, which was simply stunning. Rarely does music reach such ecstatic heights.

But it doesn't start that way.

From beginnings in a moody minor key, glimpses of the main themes slowly shine through like shafts of sunlight in the gloom until they blossom in the Allegro and become fully formed in the third, most famous movement.

The final part is a reprise of previous melodies, prior to the work's brash climax.

There's no doubt Petrenko treats this music as a spiritual homecoming, injecting every ounce of his being into it.

The first half of the concert was devoted to Philip Glass's new 11th Symphony which premiered in New York in January and received its single previous UK performance in Liverpool recently. The 80-year-old American is best known for avant-garde works built around repetitive themes.

His new symphony, 40 minutes in length, is no exception to this but it was carried off superbly. What a joy to listen to, with its energy and innate restlessness!

The three movements were always interesting and easy on the ear, and the fun was in seeing how the themes were developed.

The new work built towards an aggressive and militaristic finale - something of a free-dance section - with some extravagant use of the eight-man percussion section.

Glass suggests that the listener should "go with the music, paying attention as well as you can".

This worked for me and I loved it.

ROB BARNES

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 3, 2017
Words:392
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