Its conductor Antonio Pappano – London-born, US-raised and of Italian descent – has been music director of the Royal Opera since 2002. And his sense of drama infuses the orchestra’s dynamic playing.
The Accademia di Santa Cecilia is unusual in Italy in being an orchestra unattached to an opera house, and it regularly sweeps the board for awards with its recordings. Founded in 1908, it has worked directly with the leading composers of the day, from Mahler, Debussy and Richard Strauss to Hindemith, Berio and Stockhausen. Previous conductors include Toscanini, Furtwängler, Bernstein, Abbado, Muti and Barenboim.
With this distinguished backstory, the orchestra sets out on a major European tour in the spring with a programme that is dominated by Tchakovsky’s powerful Piano Concerto No 1, the brilliant Chinese pianist Yuja Wang, who will still be only 30 at the time of the concert, as soloist. Wang started playing at the age of six, and has been snapped up by orchestras worldwide since making her European debut in 2003, and her Northern American debut shortly after.
Her big breakthrough came in 2007 when she replaced the Argentinian Martha Argerich at short notice in Boston – playing the same concerto that she performs in London, and in the US city where it was first performed in 1875. One of the titanic works in the piano repertoire, Tchaikovsky’s first concerto with its distinctive striding opening chords pleased the audience so much at that first performance that the last movement had to be repeated.
The orchestra also plays two works by Italian composers: Rossini’s overture to his hastily written cut-and-paste opera The Siege of Corinth, the reworking in 1826 for his new home, France, of an earlier, Italian work, and Respighi’s picturesque Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome, an appropriately home-grown finale.
|What||Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Royal Festival Hall|
|Where||Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
On 11 May 17, 7:30 PM – 9:45 PM
|Price||£15 - £85|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|