Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cordelia Williams in the Emperor

To the Barbican last night to see our neighbour Cordelia Williams play the Emperor with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Christopher Warren Green.

This is the first time I've seen Cordelia play live - though the YouTube of her Ondine from Gaspard is enough to convince anyone that she has a remarkable talent. I was expecting it to be very good and it was if anything beyond that.

As one might expect, she gave a highly intelligent account and was enormously persuasive in what I would describe as the filigree sections.  I cannot help thinking that it must have been somewhat like the way Clara Schumann would have played it. I've tried to find contemporary accounts of Clara's performances of the Emperor - which was a major item in her repertoire - but so far have been unable to do so.  However Clara did have a major success in London with the Emperor in 1865 with the orchestra of ... the Philharmonic Society (which became Royal in 1913) .. and thus essentially the predecessor of the current RPO.

The next item on the programme was the Choral Symphony (which was commissioned by the Philharmonic Society) but  I'm afraid I was too tired and came home.

She's giving the same programme at Birmingham Symphony Hall tonight - catch it if you can!  And look out for her Messiaen next year which I'm sure will be amazing!

PS there are some other terrific performances by Cordelia on YouTube. Do catch, for example:

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