This stimulating program got off to an adventurous start with a reprise of Ashley Fure’s Filament, an ambitious combination of music, stagecraft and lighting-design. Written for orchestra, three amplified soloists and fifteen moving voices, the fourteen-minute piece begins softly with a series of clicks and hisses, soon followed by ghostly vocal sounds – a choral atmosphere not unlike Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna – created by singers equipped with radial microphones and dispersed throughout the hall. The three instrumentalists performed from pedestals dotted around the place. Fure’s score is rife with demands for the execution of sounds produced by non-traditional techniques. As the work progressed, and with the use of amplification, it slowly built until the music seemed to come from everywhere. The vocalizations, sputtering, whining and other discordant sounds came together and then slowly faded until all the performers were brought together physically and sonically.
Next Beethoven, Daniil Trifonov the engaging if shy soloist in a refined and thoughtful reading of the ‘Emperor’ Concerto. The opening Allegro was full of drama, as he deftly juxtaposed the heroic and more lyrical passages. The other two movements were equally fine. Trifonov’s raptly serene and beautifully controlled playing tenderly drew out the poetry in the Adagio. He was well-supported throughout by Jaap van Zweden and the Philharmonic, with the joyfully rhythmic and highly elated Finale marked by energetic interplay. For an encore, Trifonov offered further Beethoven, a vigorous and jocular rendition of the Finale of the E-flat Sonata, Opus 31/3.
Following intermission was an electrifying performance of The Rite of Spring. Judith LeClair gave a wonderfully spacious delivery of the opening bassoon melody, and the Philharmonic played with effortless virtuosity, powerfully conveying the savage splendor of the ballet’s pagan ritual, and sensitively projecting the haunting and mysterious passages. With its grinding dissonances and slashing syncopations, Stravinsky’s music came across as even more radical than Filament. As an extra was a rousing rendition of ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ (Wagner’s Die Walküre), in response to which the audience broke with etiquette and gave a loud cheer as the brass blared out the opening theme.