“[Simpson’s Violin Concerto] is a full-on work, with few places for the soloist to rest, and little respite for the orchestral players – or the audience – either. There is some very distinctive vocabulary in the orchestration, particularly the muted trombones, and some very big moments from the whole ensemble, but conductor David Afkham, making his RSNO debut, maintained a careful balance with the soloist even when the brass was off the leash.


On the more familiar fare of Shostakovich, Afkham surely earned an early return invitation, a man who clearly meant business with the assertive openings of the first two movements. There was no ambiguity about this Shostakovich Five: dark certainly, but unequivocal in its darkness. The triple time music was lighter, but still sinister.”

The Herald

“Benedetti powered through her performance, visibly at ease with its unrelenting technical demands, totally in tune with German-born conductor David Afkham, who extracted lightning precision from the RSNO… Clarity and purpose were also the driving factors in Afkham’s revealing interpretation of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony. In his RSNO debut he had the players eating insatiably out of his hand. What appeared initially to be a slow, dry opening transpired to be something far more sinister and revelatory. The detail was forensic, but the overall effect was startling, making the brusqueness of the Allegretto all the more chilling, the Largo unnervingly timeless, and the emotional void of the Finale brutally traumatising.”

The Scotsman

“Afkham’s approach to the score was refreshingly direct, quite brisk in places that give other conductors pause, and, I think, entirely free of irony. It is a pretty bleak work in places, and the slow movement had a tangible feeling of utter resignation, but the RSNO wind soloists were on stellar form and the strings magnificent in the relentless single note that brings the work to its compelling conclusion.”


Acclaim  |  

Elgar and Schmidt with the  Sächsischen Staatskapelle

Semperoper Dresden - Sächsische Staatskapelle


Feature  |  

Conductor David Afkham to make Severance Music Center debut

Severance Hall Debut

Cleveland Classical