The Brussels Philharmonic, led by Music Director Stéphane Denève and accompanied by soloist Nikolaj Znaider, thrilled audiences on their UK tour dates last week. Concerts were held in London (Cadogan Hall), Gateshead (The Sage), Sheffield (Sheffield City hall) and Edinburgh (Usher Hall).
In reviewing their opening UK tour performance at London’s Cadogan Hall on Wednesday, 8th November, Bachtrack‘s Mark Thomas announces that Denève and the Brussels Philharmonic “hit the sweet spot.” He continues:
“Prokofiev’s Cinderella is one of his best-loved ballets and, as is common for conductors these days, Denève compiled his own orchestral suite. In both this and Ravel’s luxurious Daphnis and Chloé Suite no. 2, the Brussels Philharmonic was spectacular… Everything was performed with vigour, precision and good old-fashioned enthusiasm… Denève coaxed from the orchestra an exotic and creamy lushness, from the delicately shimmering flutterings of the opening daybreak through to the superbly executed flute solo that rippled and flowed beautifully and the rapturous gestures of ecstasy in the driving 5/4 rhythms of the closing Bacchanale… an extremely satisfying concert by a pairing that is clearly going places.”
In a pre-concert interview with The Scotsman, Nikolaj Znaider spoke of his close friendship with Denève, and this was evident from the critical response: “Bruch’s Violin Concerto is often performed and always well received but this was very special, with Nikolaj Znaider taking the solo… Playing with the fire, spirit and tenderness the work demands, he was reminiscent of the great violinists with Jewish heritage, such as Fritz Kreisler and Itzhak Perlman. Znaider even plays a violin formerly used by Kreisler… With many a nod and smile to Denève, he seemed to derive a very special pleasure from this work. His claim to have “a lifelong dance with the music” showed in his approach to all three movements.” (Chronicle Live)
And in their four-star review for the concert at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, Keith Bruce of The Herald writes, “a brilliant performance of what is arguably the best evocation of dawn in all music and a truly shattering climax.”
Stéphane Denève and the Brussels Philharmonic continue their tour of Europe with a performance in Vienna tonight, followed by dates in Salzburg on Wednesday 15th, Thursday 16th and Friday 17th.