Review: Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra at Colston Hall by John Packwood 10/10
ONCE again it was a pleasure to welcome this excellent orchestra to Bristol in a testing programme of early and late 20th-century music.
They were nearing the end of an intensive tour but their playing showed no sign of tiredness. In fact, Bernstein's overture to Candide fairly zipped along using tunes from the show in a brilliantly written score. This was a good omen for the rest of the concert.
Penderecki is considered to be Poland's greatest composer and has produced a variety of compositions. His Chaconne for Strings, a surprisingly effective piece, beautifully played, was written in 2005 in memory of the late Pope John Paul II. It was then added to his Polish Requiem.
Shostakovich's 2nd Piano Concerto was written for his son Maxim in 1956. It has since become popular especially the beautiful slow movement.
The climax is fugue-like where the main theme resurfaces bringing the movement to an end.
The subdued and romantic Andante has a tender mood tinged with a touch of sadness (the composer had recently experienced the death of his first wife).
The soloist, the young Japanese pianist Noriko Ogawa, gave a delightful rendition with plenty of expression. The finale is a lively dance in duple time and the soloist showed tremendous verve throughout in a completely faultless performance.
Regarded as the most conventional of Mahler's symphonies No 5 contains probably the most famous of all his themes, the emotional Adagietto.
The opening funeral march leads into a majestic chorale which returns in full force in the finale, whilst the lively scherzo precedes the aforementioned Adagietto.
This was a superlative performance by the orchestra, especially the brass section, under the superb conductor Jacek Kaspszyk.