Prom 34, Royal Albert Hall, review: A search to articulate grand truths which never quite succeeds

Its glory lies in its Adagio which Karabits and his band delivered with supreme assurance

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Prom 34 juxtaposed three works all composed during the last twelve months of the Second World War: Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from ‘Peter Grimes’, Korngold’s Violin Concerto, and Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony, and the contrasts could not have been greater.

First came the Britten, delivered with atmospheric vividness by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Kirill Karabits: a wheeling flute plus arpeggiating harp suggested dawn air washed clean; gamelan effects from woodwind and plucked strings evoked Sunday morning; moonlight was suggested by a dark anthem on low strings, and for the storm the orchestra seemed to rip itself apart.

Then it was time for Nicola Benedetti to take the solo role in the Korngold work she has made her own. It’s not a great work, but it has some effective moments, and although Benedetti is still dogged by problems of projection – in the first movement her sound was so thin it merged at times with the orchestral violins – she brought grace to the Romance, her melodic line floating serenely above the orchestra. 

Prokofiev’s Fifth is an uneven work, with an opening movement which seeks to articulate grand truths but never quite succeeds in doing so. Its glory lies in its Adagio which Karabits and his band delivered with supreme assurance, as the dreamy lament turned into a massive funeral march, before returning hushed and mysterious.