Royal Albert Hall/ Cadogan Hall

Classical review: Triumph for the BBC SSO and Deutsche Oper's Tannhauser at the Proms, and Tine Thing Helseth's brass ensemble at the Cadogan Hall

4.00

Prom 29 – Tannhauser, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Oper, Runnicles/ Chamber Prom 4, Tine Thing Helseth

It might be argued that Daniel Barenboim’s 16-hour series represented enough Wagner for one year at the Proms, but since Tannhauser had never before been heard there – and since that is Wagner’s most serenely beautiful work – no further
justification was needed for the performance by the BBC Scottish Symphony
Orchestra and the chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

The opening scene in which Robert Dean Smith (in the title role) makes his escape from the clutches of mezzo Daniela Sindram (Venus) wasn’t helped by the fact that she so splendidly out-sang him: there was no beauty in his tenor tone, let alone any trace of heroism. But the work soon sparked as the shawm-player accompanied the song of the shepherd boy – delivered with crystalline purity by the Israeli soprano Hila Fahima – with the pilgrims’ chorus coming in gently with the reprised theme of the overture. From then on the flow of Wagner’s inspiration continued magically unbroken.

The singing knights were strongly cast, with the Estonian bass Ain Anger providing ballast as the swaggering Landgrave, and with Christoph Pohl’s Wolfram making irresistibly persuasive interjections; Smith’s performance, meanwhile, grew steadily in power and conviction. Under Donald Runnicles’ direction the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra met its challenges impeccably, and one seldom hears a chorus to match that of the Deutsche Oper's with its dark, clean, brilliantly-focused sound. But the star performance of the evening was Heidi Melton’s Elisabeth. You could sense the house holding its breath each time this young American soprano delivered an aria, so perfect was her sound, and so refined her artistry; her duet with Pohl, with the pilgrims’ chorus in the background, was beautiful beyond words.

Chamber Prom 4, by trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth and her all-girl brass ensemble tenThing, was a joyful blast from start to finish. This glamorous and articulate player had initially formed her group as an antidote to her career as a soloist, and initially it was ‘just a gimmick’. But they soon realised they were onto something worthwhile, and at the Cadogan Hall they proved it. The virtuosic possibilities of four trumpets, three trombones, a bass trombone, a horn and a tuba are considerable, as Blaze, Diana Burrell’s new piece for them, indicated, even if it was a rather charmless showcase. But everything else in their programme worked a treat: piano pieces by Grieg and excerpts from Carmen and The Threepenny Opera all arranged by Jarle Storlokken made a swinging hour. Catch Helseth playing solo in Prom 48.

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power