Thursday, September 28

Mozart’s Double Concerto – Liverpool Philharmonic

Mozart’s Double Concerto, performed by pianists Katia and Marielle Labéque, accompanied by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Karel Deseure, is preceded by Dvořák’s The Wood Dove and followed by Prokofiev’s Symphony No.3 to create a magical and dramatic afternoon of music.

The opening of The Wood Dove features a lovely contrast of heavy bass and percussion and light woodwind. This proceeds into a repetitive double bass and cello section which guides the rest of the orchestra along the progression. Gentle cymbals add a sense of drama as the piece moves into a march with a military feeling as the intricate brass blends with ominous pizzicato to create a sense of eerie magic. The piece is ideal for the summer creating a feeling of the world waking up, and a sense of drama and magic that feels like it’s straight out of a fairy tale.

Mozart’s Double Concerto continues which warm theme with its festive opening. The gentle piano contrasts with the rest of the powerful orchestra. Katia and Marielle Labéque’s choice to sit facing each other and wear contrasting black and white clothing creates a call and response feeling in the piece. The second movement is much softer than the first, giving the sense of an enchanted evening after merriment before the final movement finishes with a sense of fun combined with light drama and intimacy.

Photo: Ben Wright

The final piece, Prokofiev’s Symphony No.3, is not well known and not performed often, so Deseure made the choice to introduce the piece and its dark, mystical story. The introduction was excellent, very informative and added a level of understanding to this forgotten piece of music. It also gave Deseure the opportunity to advise that the orchestra are the only one in the UK to possess real bells with which they can illustrate the fall of the monastery, rather than using tubular bells which do not have the same effect.

The opening of the piece is harsh and violent but very quickly becomes gentle and rich to illustrate the reduction of panic with the introduction of the fiery angel. Pitch is used to excellent effect to create a sense of high drama and the percussion session are excellent at creating a frightening feeling. The second movement is much sweeter, but still retains a sense of palpable sadness. Flautists, Cormac Henry and Helen Wilson add a particular richness here with the drama provided by the rest of the orchestra shining through. The third movement features lots of clashing and harsh notes contrasting with calm melodies to create a false sense of security. The flutes together with the piccolo, played by Sameeta Gahir, add to the severity of this movement and the percussion section enhances the drama together with harpists Elizabeth McNulty and Eleanor Hudson. The dark and dramatic final movement creates a tangible sense of tragedy and the different toned bells exclusive to the orchestra are a wonderful addition which enrich the feeling of drama. 

This concert collates an extraordinary and magical collection of music with fairy tale themes and high drama which was a lovely way to spend a summer afternoon. The addition of such an unknown and rarely performed piece was a particular highlight, and as always, the orchestra did an excellent job of performing wonderful music.

Reviewer: Donna M Day

Reviewed: 11th June 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.