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Orchestra delivers stunning performances
Two of the most popular works in the Russian romantic repertory attracted an almost-full house to the Orchestra of Opera North’s recent Leeds concert. As a curtain-raiser, orchestra and guest conductor Jac van Steen revealed the delicate textures of Liadov’s symphonic miniature The Enchanted Lake – a precious eight minutes of beautifully-etched colours. This is not to imply that Peter Donohoe’s barnstorming performance of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto in any way lacked subtlety of colouring; there was an abundance of it in the concerto’s Adagio movement in which Donohoe beguilingly released the tenderness and yearning from the pages of the score.
The 1982 Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition joint-winner’s brilliance in the two outer movements was breathtaking and, no less, his stamina. Following this “Everest of Concertos”, Donohoe mesmerised the audience with two generous Liszt encores.
After the interval, the all-consuming intensity of the Orchestra of Opera North’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony was heightened by Jac van Steen’s decision to forgo the customary tension-breaking applause which usually greets the third movement Scherzo-March.
With a stabbing downbeat, Steen plunged without a pause into the outpouring of grief and despair in the Symphony’s final movement.