On my recent visit to Vilnius I decided to take in another concert at the Philharmonic Hall by the Lietuvos Nacionalinis Simfoninis Orkestra.
I looked at the programme and saw that the main piece was the Music Makers by Edward Elgar. Now I have to admit that I am no great fan of Elgar (although I am familiar with the Enigma Variations, Violin and Cello concertos) and I had never heard this composition so my enthusiasm was limited.
However, to balance this they were playing Lutoslawskis Concerto for Orchestra in the first half and I happen to be a great fan of this piece.
The first piece they played on the evening was Lalos “Scherzo” which was a minor but enjoyable piece.
Then came a visceral performance of the Lutoslawski “Concerto for Orchestra” The orchestra excelled themselves in this demanding work driven along by the highly demonstrative conductor Olivier Grangean.
It was lovely to see the orchestra with big smiles on their faces at the conclusion of the piece and their obvious enthusiasm and commitment to the conductor.
Finally, came the Elgar, with little enthusiasm on my part. But what a beautiful piece of music it is (even quotes from Nimrod from the Enigma Variations appear) and a wonderful performance from the orchestra and soloist, mezzo-soprano, Egle Sidlauskaite.
But the real stars of the evening were the Kauno Valstybinis Choras who sang magnificently. Perched on the balcony above the orchestra they sang with wonderful colour and shade and did total justice to the music of Edward Elgar. Moreover, they sang in English and did full justice to the words of Arthur O’Shaughnessy who wrote the poem “Ode”.
So, it takes an excellent Lithuanian Orchestra and Soloist, a magnificent Choir from Kaunas and a French conductor to convince an Englishman (me) of the quality of the Music Makers piece.
Bravo to all concerned.