BRILLIANT: the only word for it. Peter Oundjian's American Festival (part one) with the RSNO on Saturday night had a full-on quality that was authentic in its accent, with some precision-tooled delivery and a Stars and Stripes strand in its DNA that permeated the performances.
Every conductor has Leonard Bernstein's Candide Overture in his portfolio. It has bull's-eye audience appeal written into it. I've heard it hundreds of times and it's almost bullet-proof. But Peter Oundjian's account, with the RSNO in white-hot form, had such a scorching immediacy of impact in the precise articulation of its most flamboyant elements, it was like hearing Candide re-invented.
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Next up for re-invention was George Gershwin's Piano Concerto, for which Oundjian didn't so much bring on soloist Jon Kimura Parker as unleash the big-boned Canadian pianist. The Gershwin tends to be hauled off the shelf when programmers are looking for an alternative to Rhapsody in Blue.
Parker's unbuttoned version of the piece came straight out of a jazz tradition and declared the concerto a masterpiece in its own right. Across the board the "classically-structured" robe of the concerto was discarded and it was set free to swing in an idiomatic performance with Parker in piratical mode and the RSNO's guest principal trumpeter Hedley Benson injecting the juice of the blues. Parker, having played like a demon, went bonkers in his breathtaking encore of a mental version of Danny Elfman's theme tune for The Simpsons.
John Adams' massive canvas for Harmonielehre is minimalism writ too large, but the finale was breathtakingly-played by the RSNO.
Supported by Dunard Fund.