Royal Albert Hall
Classical review: A brilliant new work by Param Vir, a stunning performance by Lisa Batiashvili, and some exotica from World Routes
Prom 52 – Batiashvili, BBCSO, Oramo (*****)
Prom 54 – World Routes (****)
Friday 23 August 2013
As spoken languages are dying, so are musical ones: the indefatigable researchers of Radio 3’s World Routes are doing invaluable work to record and help preserve what can be preserved. World Routes also runs an ‘academy’ scheme through which young British-based musicians are taken back to their country of origin and mentored by a maestro: in the grand scheme of things this can only amount to a gesture, but it’s a gesture worth making.
Prom 54 was designed to showcase the fruits of this year’s project, in which 18-year-old Fidan Hajiyeva has been mentored by the Azerbaijani singer Gochaq Askarov, but as a warm-up we got a set from a new Malian trio who were making their first-ever public performance. And what Trio Da Kali purveyed was a lovely blend of griot music plus something close to jazz, led by singer Hawa Kasse Mady Diabate whose sound has been aptly compared with that of the American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. Fidan and Gochaq came on with the traditional instrumental line-up for Azerbaijani mugham, and in the space of 25 minutes we learned three things: Fidan has great promise, Gochaq really is the next best mugham singer after Alim Qasimov, and the intricacies of this ancient musical form can project very accessibly for a Western audience.
Meanwhile Prom 52 brought a newly-commissioned work which had an inspired assurance from first note to last. Param Vir has spoken of ‘sculpting’ his textures in Cave of Luminous Mind, and that was exactly how it felt: using endlessly-rising pianissimo string glissandi, he created the impression of a vast bowl of hazy sound out of which instrumental solos eloquently surged. Under Sakari Oramo’s direction, the BBC Symphony Orchestra gave the work a radiant luminosity: we’ve had a lot of new pieces parading their Buddhist credentials recently, but this one really did justify its claim to reflect the experience of meditation.
That Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, which followed, was not an anti-climax was due to a superlative performance by the young Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili. There was no vanity in her playing, just an elegantly expressive virtuosity which went to the heart of this work, and her sound was ideally focused for the difficult acoustic. Her encore made a welcome break from the usual Bach/Kreisler routine: a Georgian song-and-dance by Sulkhan Tsintsadze, charmingly arranged for violin and orchestra by her father Tamas Batiashvili.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Russian officials ban yoga because it's too much like a religious cult
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Ginger Pride festival to take place next summer, organisers say 'time of bullying gingers is over'
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
Glastonbury 2015: The best bits you missed from Lionel Richie and the Dalai Lama to The Libertines' secret set
Glastonbury 2015: The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James' Twitter Q&A didn't exactly go as planned
Guillaume Tell gang-rape scene causes uproar at the Royal Opera House
Glastonbury 2015: Shocking scenes of rubbish left strewn across campsite as clean-up begins
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS