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Only six months to go to the re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall. After a long period of camping out next door the resident orchestras must be dying for the day to arrive, although at least the London Philharmonic Orchestra has used the time to explore unfamiliar musical territory.
The climax of its concert on Wednesday was the premiere of a new work – a novelty in itself and easily the most invigorating item of the evening. Flute concertos are hardly two a penny and Matthew Hindson’s nearly half-hour House Music – Concerto for solo flute and orchestra probably ranks as the biggest piece that flautists now have to play. It shows you things that you never knew a flute could do – creating faux chords with harmonics, mixing air and notes, tapping on the keys, separate tonguings, quartertones. And that is just the opening page.
Hindson, who is Australian, wants to see if the rhythms and harmonies of techno music can be brought into the classical concert hall. The result is bizarre but strangely compelling – long flute cadenzas that sound like avant-garde experimentation from the 1960s alternate with dance numbers for full orchestra with the volume turned up to maximum. Soloist Marina Piccinini showed off what she could do, as if asked to play the advanced guide to flautist’s technique from first page to last at breakneck speed.
The rest of the programme looked as if it should provide a vigorous build-up, but never quite delivered. The conductor, Roberto Minczuk, started with a too solid performance of Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony, followed by a respectful nod to Stravinsky’s ballet score Apollon musagète that remained firmly earthbound. Weill’s Kleine Dreigroschenmusik came across with more life and gave the LPO wind and brass an opportunity to shine, but for once this was the living composer’s evening.
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