Classical Review: Prom 67 – Jansen, Escaich, Orchestre de Paris, Jarvi, Royal Albert Hall / Chamber Prom 8 – Bostridge, Kenny, Fretwork, Cadogan Hall
Tuesday 03 September 2013
Begun during the Spanish Civil War and finished in the first weeks of the Second World War, Benjamin Britten’s Violin Concerto – ‘rather serious, I’m afraid’ was his wry comment - opens with a Beethovenian gesture on timpani after which the soloist asserts dominance by turning gentle somersaults high above the orchestra.
But when that soloist is the Dutch violinist Janine Jansen – possessor of a supremely refined line - the dominance becomes more like persuasion. Her performance brought out this work’s echoes of the Berg concerto for which it was a homage: each phrase was exquisitely calibrated, with the threnody of the Passacaglia suggesting a lament for the demise of the Transylvanian musicians whose swoops and slides she had celebrated in the Scherzo.
With Arvo Part’s “Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten” Parvo Jarvi and the Orchestre de Paris had already demonstrated their fastidious control of dynamics, but Saint-Saens’ “Organ” Symphony allowed them to do so again. Thierry Escaich was the organist, and although his role was mostly limited to providing a sonic foundation, his final letting-rip shook the real foundations.
Meanwhile Chamber Prom 8 fielded a dream team. With Dowland songs delivered by tenor Ian Bostridge, lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, and the viol consort Fretwork, what’s not to like? And Dowland’s star is currently rising, having been given a boost in the wider world by Sting’s lute-accompanied recordings. For Sting, at whose launch-recital Bostridge was seen politely applauding, Dowland was a musician for our times, ‘an alienated singer-songwriter’; for Fretwork’s leader Richard Boothby, Dowland is ‘up there with Purcell and Lennon and McCartney’.
Dowland’s lyrics may be condensed, but they have an emotional directness which Bostridge made his own. Sitting in the middle of the group, and singing as if chatting to friends, he followed all the cues in Dowland’s word-setting. Beginning with the agonised “Can she excuse my wrongs”, he went on to darken his tone for “Flow, my tears”, and to flatten the notes, as though broken by grief, in “Sorrow, stay”.
But when the music evoked the excitement of sex – “To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die” – he found the right register for that too. Kenny’s lute solos had an intimacy, and Fretwork’s sound a plangency, which ideally set off Bostridge’s art. After the first encore - Kenny’s transcription of a song from Britten’s underrated opera “Gloriana” - they did a second, clearly as keen to carry on, as we were for them to do so.
ReviewThese heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientists who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
- 3 Star Wars memorabilia called a 'bit of plastic' on Antiques Roadshow by Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
- 4 Meet Thea, Norway's 12-year-old child bride
- 5 Russell Brand might seem like a sexy revolutionary worth getting behind, but he will only fail his fans
Breaking Bad season 6 is still not happening
Doctor Who, Flatline - review: Clara isn’t half bad as the Time Lord
Alfred Hitchcock's unseen Holocaust documentary to be screened
X Factor 2014 results: Chloe Jasmine and Stephanie Nala sent home
Star Wars memorabilia called a 'bit of plastic' on Antiques Roadshow by Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'