thu 27/02/2020

Philharmonia, Denève, Royal Festival Hall | reviews, news & interviews

Philharmonia, Denève, Royal Festival Hall

Philharmonia, Denève, Royal Festival Hall

French master conductor brings soul and fire to showpieces

Stéphane Denève, travelling south to fire up the PhilharmoniaDrew Farrell
Why, a modish reader might ask, did I go to hear a rum-looking cove conducting a classical lollipop at the Festival Hall when I might have tasted the latest fruits of a controversial prodigy over at the Barbican? First, because there's plenty of time to wait and see whether bumptious wunderkind Alex Prior will get beyond the derivative, lurid monsterworks he's currently producing. Second, because the immensely likeable cove, French-born Stéphane Denève, is so busy transfiguring his Royal Scottish National Orchestra that we Londoners all too rarely get to see him. And last, because you can't beat the impact of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade when it's firing on all cylinders and seducing with every gorgeous solo. Philharmonia players and a peculiar audience seemed overwhelmingly convinced about that last night.

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