BBC Proms: Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra / Davis, Royal Albert Hall, London
Monday 29 August 2011
Sir Colin Davis's vim and vigour has always seemed so eternal that it was strange, not to say difficult, to discover him conducting now from a chair.
You could see and hear how that compromised the transference of energy from his now familiar body language to the players before him. The question was would experience prevail over youth or would the reverse be true?
Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements is a Davis party piece, but he seemed oddly disconnected from it this time around and his charges – the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra – played the notes and dispatched the big gestures with no apparent sense of how they added up. The performance lacked direction, its imperative compromised in the outer movements where drop-outs in tension almost suggested that Stravinsky himself had lost his way. Yes, there was beauty in the cool, harp-flecked neo-classicism of the Andante and the goose-stepping finale harnessed a generalised energy that sporadically excited – but the final D-flat major chord wasn't earned and I for one was left wondering quite how we'd got there.
But we were destined for exotic "Asia" and one of music's most protracted come-ons: Ravel's intoxicating Shéhérazade. Our "voyage" through the sights and sounds of the Orient was chronicled by the ever-luminous Susan Graham whose amply expressive mezzo dispensed opulence and limpidity in equal measure. The bloom of the voice is so seductive and its deployment so musical that one really was literally transported. "The Enchanted Flute" was indeed enchanted, the orchestra's principal flute reprising the cool enticements of his work in the Stravinsky.
And then the opening fanfares of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony cleaved the air and Davis's young players were really cooking. The restless imperative of the first subject reminded me of what was missing in the Stravinsky and the disembodied quality of the second subject group with its gorgeously feline solo clarinet took the imagination to another level. Davis started to rise from his seat to urge the fateful fanfares on each menacing return and even an early string entry in the approach to the big development climax suggested a positive kind of over-zealousness.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 HeForShe campaign: Iceland to follow up Emma Watson speech with UN women's rights conference – for men only
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron
- 5 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
Why do we like making lists?
Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron
Glastonbury 2015 registration: How to get tickets for next year's festival
Kylie Minogue Kiss Me Once tour, London O2 - review: Pop princess still reigns supreme
Miranda Hart and Sarah Millican named highest-selling female comedians
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >