BBC Philharmonic, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

To perform the orchestral music of Franz Liszt with the sympathy and sensitivity it demands, first find the right conductor. There aren't that many around. In its principal conductor, Gianandrea Noseda, the BBC Philharmonic has just the right man. And in an interestingly planned all-Liszt programme, Noseda brought the composer into sharper focus as a fascinating and important influence in the 19th century.

Of the bombastic vulgarity that is all too readily associated with Liszt, once dismissed for his Hungarian background and religious fervour as "half gipsy, half priest", there was not a trace here. And where some, in dealing with the trickier aspects of his music, simply play fast and loud - making it even more flamboyant and excessive - Noseda brought refinement, subtlety and colour.

The programme featured three of the threads that ran through the composer's long life. There was the Abbé Liszt's Franciscan side, in the rarely performed orchestral versions of Two Legends. The first, St Francis of Assisi Preaching to the Birds, contains vivid pre-echoes of Messiaen in its woodwind twitterings and stringy tremolandos. The second Legend is based on another St Francis - this time of Paolo - forced by a truculent ferryman to walk on water, across the Straits of Messina. It opens with a shimmering introduction of a chorale, which sails through the tempestuous deeps only to be succeeded by another religious quotation at the end. By this time the saint has safely weathered the pictorial orchestral storms that threaten to engulf him, the turbulence at the climax beautifully judged by Noseda and his players.

Liszt's Second Piano Concerto presents a different picture of the composer, as a virtuoso pianist. Enrico Pace, the winner of the Liszt Piano Competition, covered the whole keyboard with ease, conveying the contrasts between the work's mercurial pianissimos, dramatic outbursts and bravura passage work. That it was the soloist's show never detracted from the BBC PO's responsive account of its part, stylish in phrasing and shading.

In the Faust Symphony, three character sketches of Goethe's protagonists, Faust, Gretchen and Mephistopheles, we had yet another of Liszt's obsessions. The first movement, dedicated to the Faustian hero himself, contained some beautifully sculpted lines, the wayward opening setting the scene for an expressive realisation of Liszt's vision, intimate in the solo strings of the central Gretchen section and devilishly agile in the Mephistophelean finale. The purely orchestral ending of this three-part original version said it all: Gretchen had redeemed Faust, without the help of any fourth movement and men's choir. It spoke volumes for Noseda's interpretation and the orchestra's trans- formation from good to evil.

Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Arts and Entertainment
Crowd control: institutions like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are packed

Art
Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices