The evening opened with a rare treat - Elegischer Gesang, Op.118 and Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, Op. 112, two hauntingly beautiful and rarely-performed choral works by Beethoven - before Rafał Blechacz took to the stage to perform as the soloist in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major. Still only 26 years old and looking, if anything, slightly younger, Blechacz plays with a depth and maturity beyond his years. He is currently garnering unanimous critical praise for his latest and absolutely stunning recording of works by Szymanowski and Debussy (anybody lucky enough to have caught his performance last time around in Rome would have heard him play some of those pieces live). I am now hoping that we won't have to wait long before the immensely talented Blechacz records his own interpretation of Beethoven's piano concertos too – his playing last night was a wonderfully measured blend of intimate delicacy and sparkling virtuosity.
At the close of the concerto rapturous cheers and applause from the audience brought him back out on stage several times before he graciously conceded an encore. Blechacz famously won all the prizes at the 2005 Chopin Competition in Warsaw and it was to the work of his fellow countryman that he returned for what turned out to be an absolutely sublime encore – Chopin's Waltz in A minor Op.34 No.2. Unmissable!
The concert was rounded out with an exhilarating performance of Antonin Dvořak's Symphony No. 7, which saw both orchestra and conductor Orozco-Estrada enthusiastically applauded at its close.
Elegischer Gesang, Op. 118
Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, Op. 112
Piano Concerto No. 4 G major, Op. 58
Waltz in A minor Op.34 No.2
Symphony No. 7 D minor, Op. 70