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Review: Peer Gynt at the Philharmonic Hall ****

The Phil is embracing the piano in a big way this season.

And the celebration of the keyboard has continued in to the New Year with the appearance of a pair of bright young things from Italy.

Earlier this month the RLPO played host to Francesco Piemontesi. Now Hope Street has seen another impressive performance, this time with a Liverpool debut from Beatrice Rana, still only 25 but making all kinds of waves in the classical world including being named Female Artist of the Year at the Classical Brits in 2018.

While Piemontesi opened for Brahms’ Second, Rana took on Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto in this well-attended Sunday afternoon concert, delivered with a wonderful lyrical eloquence including a lovely flowing cadenza/coda in the first movement.

Rana also showcased an exquisite touch in the central largo, creating a tangible sense of longing – complemented by delicate support from the Phil under Vasily Petrenko’s baton to generate a sublime sound that had even the consumptive coughers holding their breath.

Beatrice Rana. Photo by Nicolas Bets

Beethoven was sandwiched between mischief and melancholy.

Mischief came from Grieg’s Peer Gynt: Suite No1, a soupcon of irresistible melodies played at a frisky pace by the Phil.

There was perhaps a bit of over-enthusiasm in the piano/pianissimo section of Morning, but the Death of Ase was a masterclass in controlled restraint, and In The Hall of the Mountain King was as crisp as a piece of melba toast.

And then what more appropriate for a bleak January day than Sibelius’s decidedly bleak Fourth Symphony, a spare and introspective work given full voice here by Petrenko and the RLPO who painted a landscape in a palette of muted musical hues.

Missed the concert? It’s been recorded by Radio 3 for a future broadcast so keep your ears peeled.

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