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Showing posts from August, 2019

Vaughan Williams, Hugh and Elgar, BBC Proms

Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis was neatly played, though the placement of the small orchestra at the back of the main band meant it came out as one wash of sound: couldn't they have put small orchestra in the middle of the Arena? That would have made an interesting musical experience.

Hugh Wood's Scenes from Comus was tightly played. Andrew Davis brought out the contrast between Wood's Viennese colours and the almost tonal world of early 20th Century. One could hear what was to come later in subsequent decades. This was the highligh of the concert.

Elgar's The Music Makers was in the second half. Dame Connolly's effort was noted, and the general ensemble of the choir and orchestra under Andrew Davis was fine. BUT I had a real issue with the work - it's Edwardian remix - the best of Elgar cobbled together for some much needed cash. The text, though well chosen, was fitted into a bunch of recycled tunes. It just sounded ever so dull…

Bruckner 8, Andris Nelsons and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

Bruckner 8 Symphony was a gigantic piece of symphonic writing. What better to hear a mature and thoughtful Andris Nelsons conducting the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra? The slow measured start gave rise to the hallmark relentlessness of the later Bruckner symphonies. Nelsons brought out the rising and falling phrases, and ensured the episodic chunks together form a coherent whole. The scherzo second movement was precise and at pace. Feierlich langsam (3rd movement) was subtle, mournful with a glimmer of light. The masculine sound for the brass section delivered a memorable finale

Stephen Hough plays Memdelssohn, BBC Proms

The stars of this Prom were Stephen Hough and Queen Victoria's own richly gilded piano made by Érard (1856). Hough played Mendelssohn's piano concerto no 1 with poise and pace. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Ádám Fischer provided well balanced accompaniment. Though one could hear Hough was battling with an instrument that lacked a resonant upper register. The Érard sounded like a large fortepiano with good middle and lower register voice, but to modern ears that are used to Steinway Model Ds it sounded somewhat dull. The encore (Chopin Nocturne No 2 in E Flat) suited the keyboard much more - with a mellow sound one could imagine a musical soireé in a drawing room at Buckingham Palace. An interesting concert, memorable for different reasons.

Joyce DiDonato sings Les Nuits d'été, BBC Proms

Young Benjamin Beckman's work (European premiere) Occidentalis turned out to be a fun piece confidently played by the The National Youth Orchestra of the US of A.

The real highlight of the concert was Joyce DiDonato singing Berlioz Les Nuits d'été. Not exactly a jolly set of songs, and DiDonato's voice painted a gloomy and dark world of longing and grieve. Her French text was superbly clear and the orchestra under Pappano's baton provided the lush orchestra backdrop.

The band than embakred on a mighty journey climbing up the Alps (Ein Alpensinfonie) - the sound was fresh, eager and above all enjoyed - in that I felt the players did enjoy playing this symphonic poem in the RAH. The brass section of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain was up in the gallery offering the off-stage effect: though one could hear a little competitiveness in their, hmm, dynamics. A fun Sunday morning that was.