At last night’s Royal Festival Hall concert, there were no fewer than eight so-called Guest Principal players in the Philharmonia Orchestra.
The concertmaster, Vijay Gupta, was imported from the LA Phil. The flute, Philippa Davies, outstanding in the Dvorak 8th solos, is one of the best session players in town.
But eight substitutes on the front line – including clarinet, harp, timps, viola – and in a prime Sunday-night concert with a world class soloist and conductor – is more than a team can bear and still retain its core identity.
This did not look, sound or comport itself on stage like the Philharmonia Orchestra. This was subs night.