KING'S LYNN FESTIVAL 2019: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with the Amatis Piano Trio: Mozart (Magic Flute Overture), Beethoven (Triple Concert) and Brahms (Symphony No.2), King's Lynn Corn Exchange
The chance to marvel at the musical expertise of an orchestra whose reputation speaks for itself provided a fitting climax to the 69th King's Lynn Festival on Saturday night.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), conducted by the energetic and expressive Jamie Phillips, kept an audience at the town's Corn Exchange in the palms of both hands with a performance that cast this year's Festival theme of Science and Arts into outer space.
Three of classical music's most enduring works, Mozart's Overture to the Magic Flute, Beethoven's Concerto for Piano, Violin and Cello, followed by Brahms' Symphony No 2, kept all thoughts of the rain steadily falling on Tuesday Market Place at bay until the end of the concert, at least.
What has been called Mozart’s only pantomime, The Magic Flute has taken on iconic status, partly because of its association with the Inspector Morse TV series and its use in the episode, Masonic Mysteries, directed by one Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire).
But the full playfulness of the piece, described by the radio station Classic FM as "a riot of life, lust and ludicrous plot" was lifted far beyond its Masonic overtones (an organisation Mozart is believed to have taken great interest in), by the RPO whose famous conductors have previously included Andre Previn, Vladimir Ashkenazy and its founder, Sir Thomas Beecham.
Beethoven's Triple Concerto was the cue for a minor stage rearrangement which allowed for the brilliant, Dutch-based Amatis Piano Trio to make the entrance on stage.
German violinist Lea Hausmann, British cellist Samuel Shepherd and Dutch/Chinese pianist Mengjie Han blended as one with their "backing orchestra" as they tackled what American classical music reviewer Ryan Turner called one of Beethoven's "hidden gems".
To coin a phrase used to encourage rail travel during the 1970s ("Let the train take the strain"), Beethoven's work was best enjoyed for the pure melody of the music, more than how the individual instruments connected and conversed with each other.
That sentiment was even more relevant for the "main event" of the evening, Johannes Brahms Symphony No 2, a piece of music described in the concert notes (by John Dalton) as "an idyllic, serene and genial work".
So often, classical music can be overbearing or even threatening as if to signal the impending arrival of some destructive or catastrophic event.
But at King's Lynn Corn Exchange on Saturday night, it was simply a case of sitting back and enjoying the music.
Review by Winston Brown