RSNO Rachmaninov Two, Usher Hall, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Patrick Hahn conductor RSNO
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Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Einem, Capriccio; Liszt, Piano Concerto No 1; Rachmaninov, Symphony No 2.
Patrick Hahn (conductor), Vadim Kholodenko (piano)
Running time

Sometimes a member of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra stands and introduces a concert. Principal Trombone and Player Director Dávur Juul Magnussen was first class, except it wasn't quite loud enough. But we did hear the excellent news that King Charles is to be the next Patron of the Orchestra; that this concert is to recognise the long and dedicated service Gordon Murray gave as its Secretary until his recent retirement; and that Patrick Hahn was about to come on stage to conduct.

The concert opened with a short work first performed in Berlin in 1943 called Capriccio. It was a debut success for the young Austrian born Gottfried von Einem. It was palpitating and enthusiastic but more importantly it was the evening's conductor who wanted us to hear it.

At the pre concert talk, violinist Ursula Heidecker Allen introduced us to the Orchestra's newly appointed Principal Guest Conductor. Patrick Hahn was born in Austria in 1995 and we quickly learned that his English was as good as anybody's, albeit with the American accent he picked up as a jazz pianist over there. Already in charge of an orchestra in Wuppental and principal guest conductor of another in Munich, he stood in at the last minute for a RSNO concert in 2022. The Orchestra liked him, and he told us he very much admired the happy outlook of its musicians. Asked about his plans with the Orchestra he cited the introduction of works not yet heard - and the Einem opener for this concert was the first. One titbit we heard was the good news that his parents were not musical - so when he went home he could relax and not have to talk music with them.

The audience really appreciated Vadym Kholodenko as the soloist for Liszt's Piano Concerto No 1. It was a serious performance with his eyes firmly directed to the keyboard. He gave an unnamed and short, but entirely suitable encore.

The main work of evening, Rachmaninov's Second Symphony, lasts an hour but each time I hear it, it seems a very short hour, and so it was. This was the opportunity to watch Patrick Hahn's skill leading a large orchestra in a much loved work. He is a comfortable conductor to watch, in the same vein as Thomas Søndergard and this bodes well. Thank goodness I was at the pre concert talk to learn a little about him.

Event: Friday 17th May 2024 at 7.30pm