Collection: RLPO Live

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: RLPO Live
PERFORMER: Royal Liverpool PO/Petr Altrichter
CATALOGUE NO: RLCD 101 (distr. RLPO tel 0151 210 2895)

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This is the first recording to be issued on the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s own label, RLPO Live. The idea is to record occasional public concerts given by the orchestra and issue them on CD. The result, of course, is no more ‘live’ than a studio recording, but it has a better claim to be treated as such than ‘live’ recordings spliced together from several performances and stripped of applause.

This recording, at least, comes from a single night and follows the order of concert performance, from overture to encore (even if there wasn’t room for Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto). There isn’t even a programme note for the encore, something which purists should appreciate. The only problem is whether we are ready to treat CDs with the flippancy that this sort of recording implies. Some ‘warts and all’ live recordings are put on CD on account of their venerability or rarity, but there is a slight arrogance in presuming that a perfectly ordinary subscription concert merits the same treatment.

Luckily these are decent performances. Ruslan is buoyant, and the encore (Shostakovich’s ‘Galop’ from Cheryomushki) has a genuine end-of-show flamboyance. Sheherazade has a great deal of sparkle, but unfortunately the strings lack the depth and sensuality that can translate this orchestral showpiece into a narrative of radiant beauty.

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In the last movement the tempi are sometimes reckless and violinist Malcolm Stewart indulges in extravagant portamenti that could prove irritating on repeated listening. Christopher Lambton