Prom 21: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/ Rattle, Royal Albert Hall

4.00

A night of love; an hour or two of quiet revelations.

As Simon Rattle and his period band – the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment – nursed the sensuous, no erotic, harmonies of the love scene from Berlioz’ Romeo and Juliet the realisation dawned once more that without this extraordinary composition and others like it Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde might have remained forever chaste. Two pairs of star-crossed lovers and between them a seismic shift in the evolution of music. Talk about the earth moving.

Rattle’s ability to command our attention and to create atmosphere from that attention was a major feature of the evening. When did we last hear a Prom open in rapt and all-enveloping stillness – a cushion of whispering strings barely moving air, erratic heartbeats caught in the pizzicati of string basses, nine of them ranged across the rear of the orchestra and for now attending only to the music’s excitable pulse. How effectively Berlioz navigates his love scene between tenderness and unfettered ardour and how perceptively Rattle realised not just its warm embraces but also its amazing dying cadences suggestive as they are of those sinking moments where this Romeo and his Juliet feel the cold reality of the approaching dawn.

Tristan and Isolde’s night of love is rather more brutally cut short in act two of Wagner’s opera and here again Rattle’s gripping concert performance sought to prioritise harmonic tension and the music’s other-worldly theatricality. Those brassy period horns sounded at once earthy and cosmic in their dramatic offstage volleys and as Isolde (the marvellously imperious and ringingly secure Violeta Urmana) and Brangäne (the transcendent Sarah Connolly) anxiously acknowledged the timely departure of King Mark’s hunting party a moment of fear descended in barely audible sul ponticello strings and oscillating clarinets as if nature too sensed the fear and folly of the lovers’ illicit tryst. Urmana’s thrilling invocation to the “goddess of love” to bring on the night brought on a feverish eruption from the OAE – and how profoundly that would contrast with the terrible emptiness in the pit of the bass clarinet’s lower register as Franz-Josef Selig’s King Mark movingly chronicled his betrayal.

Unfortunate, then, to once again have to draw attention to the deficiencies of Ben Heppner’s Tristan. The problems that have long beset this fine singer are now so pronounced that the precious timbre and musicality are scant compensation for the distressing insecurities in support and production. Still, Rattle prevailed with a translucent and exalted performance.

http://www.edwardseckerson.biz

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
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.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam