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Concert review: Ravel's Mother Goose Suite gets delicate treatment from conductor

Published on May 4, 2014 3:34 PM

The news that Charles Dutoit was unable to make his debut with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra was a disappointment, but there was plenty of consolation in that his stand-in was to be another world-renowned conductor, Yan Pascal Tortelier.

The opening work of Saturday's concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall, the Mother Goose Suite by Maurice Ravel, was first composed as a work for children of his close friends the Godebskis, for piano with four hands. So strong was the work that the composer's publisher asked for orchestrated versions, and this evening the shorter five movement suite was performed.

Conducting without baton, Tortelier and the SSO produced a soundscape that highlighted the rhythms and harmonies that make the work a favourite with children and seasoned concert goers alike. Conductors sometimes use this work as a platform to show off their conducting prowess, but not Tortelier. Instead he painted with music, using a delicate brush and a gentle, mostly pastel palette, with bursts of colour when called for.

From the opening cadenza, it was evident that Ilya Gringolts had his own ideas of performing Bruch's Violin Concerto. Taking a measured, introspective approach that inevitably sacrificed a degree of warmth, he offered a fresh reading of a well played romantic concerto. Less predictable than other performances, his playing was always true to Bruch's writing - thoughtful and captivating.

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