Review: Orchestre National de Lille

Richard Lutz takes his pew for a classic performance at Symphony Hall


credit: Janice Carisse


Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 is renowned. The composer’s piece begins with a piano solo and, in doing so, clashed with established norms. No one had done this before in a concerto.

Under the guidance of conductor Alexandre Bloch,  and in the masterful hands of soloist Eric Lu, it became quickly clear why this music has remained top notch. Lu’s fingerwork seems to dance across the keyboard, buoyed up by the sheer symphonic dynamism of the French orchestra, now on tour in Britain.  Lu celebrated his work by entertaining the audience with a quick Chopin as a footnote. 

Symphony Hall’s unchallenged acoustic helped convey the richness of Beethoven’s work. The rest of the programme included Ravel’s childlike Ma Mere L’Oye, which gave an aural backdrop to five fairy tales, the countrabassoon, by the way, played the Beast as he falls in love with The Beauty.

And also Debussy and his personal ode to the sea was at times plangent and robust. The composer loved the ocean. In fact he described the deep waters as ‘my old friend’ and his lyric movements paid tribute to his passion.

But the night belonged to Beethoven, pianist Eric Lu and Alexandre Bloch – it was a five star tour de force.