The RLPO has announced the appointment of Andrew Manze as its Principal Guest Conductor. The post is initially for three years, commencing in September with the opening of the 2018-19 concert season.
The appointment builds upon Manze’s deep rapport with the RLPO, an orchestra whose sound he has described in Gramophone’s pages as ‘very special’. This rapport has been most obviously nurtured via a recorded cycle of the symphonies of Vaughan Williams. Most recently released were Nos 5 and 6 on Onyx, a recording hailed by Jeremy Dibble as ‘exceptionally rewarding’ (4/18).
Speaking to Richard Bratby in Gramophone’s March issue, Manze praised the combination of the RLPO and the Royal Philharmonic Hall, saying: ‘The orchestra, the concert hall and the sound they make go very much together.’ He also pinpointed why the orchestra is perfectly suited to Vaughan Williams: ‘The brass players have a warmth which goes very well with the strings, and that goes well with Vaughan Williams. Of course, there are moments in his music when he’s very angry, very aggressive, but it’s never a hard-edged Bartók or Stravinsky sort of sound, and that’s why I think the RLPO fits it so well … When I hear them play this music, I just think, “Yes. This is so right.”’
In his first season as Principal Guest conductor, Manze is set to complete the final instalment of his Vaughan Williams journey with a performance of Symphony No 9 on September 27. This is followed by two significant events in November: a performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto with cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason; and Britten’s War Requiem at Liverpool Cathedral, for which members of the NDR Radiophilharmonie in Hannover (of which Manze is Chief Conductor) will join the musicians and choristers of the RLPO.
Speaking recently from Germany, Manze said: ‘The Liverpool audience is wonderful, the orchestra’s education work is utterly admirable, the management is courageous and fun and the orchestra plays with such warmth and a spirit of collaboration that visits to Liverpool Philharmonic have become a very important part of my musical life.’