The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Music Director Designate 2021 Vasily Petrenko conducts a programme of music with a masterful touch in Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Britten’s opera music resonates to this day, and the opening piece epitomises why it stands out on its own strengths. His Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes
are evocative of a frosty morning on the shores of East Anglia, opening with the peaceful setting of a dawn rising over the stirring waters, which is broken as the timpani and brass conjure up a storm. Cellist Alexey Stadler, who has been praised by The Times for having ‘firm control and the kind of tactile, honeyed tone capable of bringing listeners to the knees’, follows in the first half with Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme
The concluding piece, Prokofiev’s Symphony No 5, invokes a distinctly Soviet style of brutalism. Composed in 1944, it is profoundly impacted by the deathly machinations of war, written in accompaniment to his country’s incalculable losses in the Second World War. In the composer’s words, it is a ‘hymn to free and happy Man’.