This is a Ramble, not a Concert Review (well, it’s a bit of one, with wacky elements). Having been away for a couple of days, inevitably the email queue was quite long (I am still catching up), but one was unexpected, details of this Rhode Island Philharmonic (RIP!) concert being webcast live. So, defying the laws of needing sleep, this 8 p.m. concert there arrived at 1 a.m. here (London) … or rather it didn’t. I had a link, and the password. No Joy, or increasingly the anticipation of there not being an Ode to it. I did get some pre-recorded audience hubbub (I know it was library stock due to repetitions every couple of minutes) and a message: “your concert will begin shortly”. It didn’t, then suddenly it did, if twenty minutes into the concert, just as Leonard Slatkin (replacing music director Bramwell Tovey) was finishing an address to the audience. I had therefore missed a movement from Brahms’s German Requiem (IV: ‘How lovely is they dwelling place’) but caught Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings – rather special, too, not least for a sudden drop to an inward pianissimo, akin to an intake of breath. Intense climax.

Beethoven 9 was very welcome: a stirring monument to Brotherhood and Humanity (touched upon by Slatkin in his closing words), conducted from memory, played and sung with dedication – good sound and picture – a first movement both spacious and sure of its direction (with some horn-writing brought out that tends to be covered or overlooked); then a crisply enunciated Scherzo (with all repeats) and shapely Trio, and a return to the Scherzo with the opening flourish not played (a Slatkin trademark: Detroit 2013 and 2017, Following a truly Adagio slow movement, Innigkeit-suffused and allowing the Andante contrasts to be exactly that, the ‘Choral’ Finale (attacca) was a stately affair – albeit the chorus sounded recessed as broadcast, masks no doubt being a contributory factor (string-players, percussionists and audience also masked) – burgeoning to an uplifting coda (piccolo to the fore), grandly stated, then, well, joyous. Glad I checked my mail, providence indeed. I am more awake now than when the concert didn’t start.


Rhode Island Philharmonic

Providence Singers, Christine Noel, Artistic Director

Talise Trevigne, soprano

Nina Yoshida Nelsen, mezzo-soprano

Colin Ainsworth, tenor

Michael Dean, bass

Veterans Memorial Auditorium (The VETS)

1 Ave of the Arts
Providence, Rhode Island

Saturday, May 7, 2022