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BBC Philharmonic play Bruckner

Charles Heathcote sees the BBC Philharmonic triumph over all challenges at Saturday's concert at the Bridgewater Hall

Published on February 10th 2009.

BBC Philharmonic play Bruckner

On Saturday, the BBC Philharmonic gave a triumphant performance of Bruckner’s massive and demanding Eighth Symphony at the Bridgewater Hall with guest conductor Günther Herbig. Like all their performances, the concert will be broadcast on Radio 3, in this case on Wednesday 18th February at 7pm.

The first challenge the orchestra faced was the piece itself. Written over a period of three years, and then revised over a further two years, it is a monumental symphony which demands great concentration and energy from the orchestra. And what an orchestra.

The usual instruments of the ensemble needed to be augmented by two harps, extra woodwind and extra brass, including four Wagner horns. The Philharmonic met the difficulties of the piece magnificently, preserving the ensemble despite extra players, including some young deputies. Only occasionally did the violins lose precision, despite the efforts of veteran leader Yuri Torchinsky.

Another problem for the orchestra on Saturday night was the 'Curse of the Bridgewater'. The excessive sound of the heating or air-conditioning fans seems to have become a permanent and distracting feature of this hall, resulting in a whistle which distracts in the quiet and intense moments of performances. The introduction to the first movement was all but ruined for those sitting near the doors on the stalls levels.

Credit must go to Günther Herbig, who conducted without a score but who knew the piece inside out. Originally from Eastern Germany, he has developed an international reputation, and his time with German and American orchestras has taught him how to re-create the lush sound suitable for a late nineteenth century symphony in the Viennese tradition. His modesty at the end of the concert merely endeared him further to the audience and the orchestra, who against all odds delivered a most convincing performance.

Manchester Confidential readers can get two for one tickets to see the BBC Philharmonic at The Bridgewater Hall. Single ticket prices range between £9 and £31. Click here for details.

Forthcoming concerts:
Great Russians – Prokofiev's Symphony No.5 and Romeo and Juliet (excerpts). Friday 20 February, 7pm.

Piano 2009 – Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Piano Concerto in F Major, and Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major and Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. Sunday 1 March, 7pm

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AnonymousFebruary 10th 2009.

Really enjoy these Philharmonic pieces, please keep them coming.

alFebruary 10th 2009.

I thought the Bridgewater was meant to be acoustically perfect? All the air conditioning gubbins are in that tower on the side aren't they?

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