City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

RSNO: Romantic Valentine’s Concert, Usher Hall, Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 18 February 2013

Christian Kluxen Trond Husebø
Show Details
The Usher Hall
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
R Strauss, Don Juan; Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No 2; Tchaikovsky, Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture; Shostakovich, Romance from The Gadfly; Ravel, Boléro.
Christian Kluxen (conductor), Olga Kern (piano)
Running time: 

Richard Strauss’s Don Juan was written in 1887 soon after he met and fallen in love with Pauline de Ahna; their marriage was to last for the rest of their lives. Don Juan was the twenty four year old’s first masterpiece most probably because it captures the frenetic excitement of the love he was experiencing. It was a fitting start to the Romantic Valentine’s Concert.

With the piano moved to centre stage Olga Kern, Russian by birth and training, and with family connections to Rachmaninov, gave us a very convincing performance of his Piano Concerto No 2. Only at the beginning did the Orchestra outplay the piano. The audience loved it and we enjoyed her short encore.

Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture was written just a few years before Don Juan. It takes it theme from Shakespeare with the rivalry between the Montagues and Capulets but more importantly the romance of Romeo and Juliet.

The short Romance from Shostakovich’s The Gadfly had the Orchestra’s Leader, Maya Iwabuchi, on her feet playing the lead violin part.

The concert ended on a high with Ravel’s most famous work, his Boléro. With the drummer working away throughout - first head down on the job but as it went along confidence allowed him to keep his eye on the conductor. Hard work well done. The piece builds up to a considerable frenzy for a full orchestra that included soprano and tenor saxophones, contrabassoon and piccolo trumpet. It was on that excitement we left the Usher Hall.

Christian Kluxen, the evening’s conductor who is Danish and currently the Orchestra’s Assistant Conductor, is in his third and final season in the post. In three years his stature has grown immensely and bodes well for his future.

The good news earlier in the week was the start of the building of the Orchestra’s new home in Buchanan Street in Glasgow, opposite the Bus Station. It is fitting in between the Royal Concert Hall and the entrance to the John Lewis department store in what has been a back yard. Work could only start once funds were in place, and indeed happily the Orchestra is also half way towards raising the money to fit out the new building.

Event: Friday 15 February 2013 at 7.30pm