Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov: Philharmonia/Vladimir Ashkenazy ****
Royal Festival Hall, 17th November 2016
Warhorse (noun): creaky old classic played by orchestras in their sleep at least once a season. Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in B flat minor falls into this category. Everyone recognises the opening brass salvoes, charging into battle, spurring the piano to action. The stampeding cossack dance finale is a familiar gallop. It only lacks cannons, but then, Tchaikovsky employed these elsewhere. There was absolutely no snoozing, however, through Alice Sara Ott’s startling performance with the Philharmonia, a barnstorming rendition which gripped from first note until last.
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