Young Ambassador Review: Benedetti and Elschenbroich Play Brahms

Stirling's Young Ambassador, Seona Glen, reviews Benedetti and Elschenbroich Play Brahms, Sat 14 Dec at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
The evening at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall kicked off with a pre-concert talk with a difference. Having enjoyed previous talks, I brought my family along, only to find out that Nicola Benedetti and Leonard Elschenbroich themselves would be speaking about the Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello! William Chandler, Associate Leader of the RSNO, asked the couple questions, and the audience listened intently to an in depth discussion about what the masterpiece means to the musicians, and what they have tried to do with it. Nicola described how to her the piece was mostly two voices in agreement, often finishing each other's phrases, with the occasional 'argument'. Leonard and Nicola both agreed that having played together a great deal, they are both very in tune with each other's playing, which did make the rehearsal process easier, but that in order to really connect on stage, they have had to discuss extensively their ideas about each musical phrase. William proceeded to give insight into the two other works which the RSNO would perform with spirit that night: Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales, and Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra.
When it came to the concert, I was really able to understand what the musicians had described, and it made the performances all the more interesting. First, the RSNO began with Ravel. The audience enjoyed some sweet melodies from the wind and strings, while there was no shortage of enthusiasm from the orchestra in the more animated sections, in which the percussion section shone through.
There was more to come, however, when the RSNO was joined by the two virtuoso players, Benedetti and Elschenbroich to perform the Brahms Double Concerto. The rhythmic and decisive opening had me captivated, and the pair played with undeniable passion, which the orchestra mirrored. I was particularly interested in what was said during the pre-concert talk about the two instruments being mostly in agreement, and I especially listened out for that, which brought an extra element of interest to the piece for me. The musicians on stage received a well-deserved applause, and the crowds dispersed for a short interval.
On return, the audience's attention was quickly captured with the very sinister opening of Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra, which gave the percussion and lower strings the chance to shine. The piece was tackled with great energy and made for a powerful performance, which had me and the rest of the audience gripped. We couldn't have asked for a more unforgettable finale.
Seona Glen
Seona is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. For more information, visit the RSNO website.
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