I, Culture Orchestra/ Kotla/Marriner, Royal Festival Hall, London

3.00

 

Sounding for all the world like the latest App for a certain
smartphone, the I, Culture Orchestra is the youngest orchestra on
the planet – just seven concerts old.

In essence it's the official orchestra of the Polish presidency of the EU Council and yet another instance of music in action across borders – namely Poland's neighbours to the east. But the issue is less about transcending social and political barriers and more about rewarding and encouraging the advance of music education in all corners of the globe. The I, Culture Orchestra is literally learning on its feet.

So definitely not the softly, softly approach – not when you launch yourself into the international public arena with Prokofiev's Scythian Suite. But, of course, it isn't the razzle-dazzle of the music's pagan excesses that really tests youngsters like this but the shot-silk quietudes of the string writing – like the violas' smoochy take on the roaring opening theme halfway through the first tableau. They are, as yet, cautiously sensual, feeling their way not so much to the notes, but to the music beyond.

Pavel Kotla shared clear and precise direction with enthusiasm and the pairing of Szymanowski's Symphony No 4 in the first half of the programme was not just symbolic geographically but a timely nod to the composer's approaching centenary. This Szymanowski shares with Prokofiev a heady folksiness with luxuriant textures, giving the exultant themes ideas above their station. Both works share an exotic nightscape, with Szymanowski fielding a glorious solo for the orchestra's Ukrainian leader. Peter Jablonski was the other key soloist, his shimmering piano cadenzas growing like offshoots of the orchestral texture.

Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony brought an astonishingly sprightly 89-year-old Neville Marriner to the platform – youth and experience in heartening juxtaposition – and his unfussy, down-the-middle approach to the piece was maybe just what these players needed in this early stage of their corporate development. There is nothing more challenging than the very particular phrasings inherent in this music and the first movement's rhythmic intricacy and dramatic way with tempo-rubato occasioned a few tentative turns and little of the electricity which can rip the piece from the page. The I, Culture Orchestra has yet to find and assert its own identity.

But then again the orchestra was effectively born in Gdansk, home of Solidarity, and that's got to be a good omen.

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before