wed 17/10/2018

Anderson & Roe, RLPO, Tali, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool review - measured fire | reviews, news & interviews

Anderson & Roe, RLPO, Tali, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool review - measured fire

Anderson & Roe, RLPO, Tali, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool review - measured fire

An Estonian arrives in the UK to make a strong impression

Anu Tali: packing a careful punchKaupo Kikkas

There must be something of a beauty parade going on in Liverpool now that Vasily Petrenko has called time on his tenure at Philharmonic Hall.  After all, someone will need to step into his shoes from 2021 after he departs for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was refreshing, therefore, to welcome Anu Tali to conduct the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, making her debut with the orchestra. She’s conducted extensively in the USA and in Asia and in many parts of Europe, especially Germany, Scandanavia and her native Estonia. But her appearances in the UK are few and far between. That’s rather a shame as her charm is that she seems to take no risks in her interpretations but packs a considerable punch.

This debut programme explored and tested her skills. There was the usual large orchestra for Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, and a much smaller ensemble for Mozart, Sibelius and Estonian composer Eduard Tubin. Most challenging was the brooding Fifth Symphony of Jean Sibelius. Tali produced a highly controlled interpretation of the work, right from the outset. The woodwind chatter which begins the first movement seemed measured and perhaps rather restrained while the rest of the movement felt impassioned with the power and vivacity which breaks forth somewhat subdued.

The central movement was as powerful as it was intensely introspective. Again, Tali controlled the narrative and brought out some impassioned playing from the RLPO strings and woodwind. She did, however, allow the final movement to blossom making, overall, a considerable impression. Anderson & RoeTubin’s Estonian Dance Suite was an interesting aside. It’s a short suite, written in 1938, and bringing together three traditional folk dance rhythms. The middle movement, intriguingly called "The Tall English", could almost have passed for Vaughan Williams. Tali’s control was also evident in the Bernstein Dances, a wholly different experience from the Tubin, and pone where the RLPO clearly wanted to let rip but the conductor held the reins tightly. The opening unisons were insistent, while the Rumble was simply brusque, verging on being almost throw-away. And then there were those sublime, almost sultry, moments, particularly "Somewhere".

Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe (pictured above by Lisa Marie Mazzuco) have been in Liverpool for two weeks as performers in residence and their performance of Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos was electrifying. This was no battle of the pianos but a sophisticated chat between people who clearly give adrenalin-charged performances.The RLPO supported when needed and shone forth when allowed. The slow movement felt understated but the tempo of the finale felt rushed. It pushed ahead, ending almost breathlessly. No qualms about Anderson and Roe's encore, though – a piano duet arrangement of "America", not among the Symphonic Dances, produced musical theatre, extrovert virtuosity and pure entertainment. 

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