Prom 56: Staatskapelle Dresden/ Luisi, Royal Albert Hall, London

4.00

The venerable Staatskapelle Dresden arrived at the Proms proudly bearing the excess luggage of Strauss’ Alpine Symphony – a piece dedicated expressly to them.

But the first sounds they produced emanated from somewhere far deeper than the foothills of that particular mountain range.

Rebecca Saunders’ traces begins in the lowest reaches of string basses with a series of glissandi suggesting seismic movement or even perhaps primitive words. The meaning of these resonances and explosive grunts is unclear but as the drones and pulses (from antiphonal percussion) grow more animated and light-catching high strings are introduced into the texture it is clear that this is essentially sculptural music built of earthly matter. We hear it as we might see it – a kind of musical Richard Serra. Saunders claims to allude more to words – not least the austerity of Samuel Beckett. But she would do well to learn from his wit.

Elemental sonority then gave way to reassuring harmony as Lang Lang took the stage for Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor. Fabio Luisi almost managed to make something elegant out of the frumpily scored introduction and, stage set, Lang Lang started working his magic. Chopin is so very much his composer; his kinship with those yearning embellishments suggests a kind of celestial improvisation. In the slow movement he seemed to suspend time with the arrival of the opening “aria”, the lavish ornamentation leading the ear to those blissful harmonic consonances as if the pleasure was entirely in savouring their anticipation. Rarely has the unlikely solo bassoon sounded so suave a duettist and the sight of Lang Lang poised over the keys until the last note of the movement had completely evaporated demonstrated his acute sensitivity. Some find Lang Lang too fanciful. But in this music he is a poet.

And so began the big climb. But amidst the cowbells and yodelling and great organ-buttressed welters of sound in Strauss’ Alpine Symphony Fabio Luisi and his handsome orchestra found many a personal inflection. The best of the piece is in the final minutes where Strauss basks in the afterglow of his strenuous commune with nature. There was infinite poignancy in the final two-octave glissando in the violins – a sigh of quiet acceptance worthy of the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. But as a final note I really don’t buy the “tradition” of Strauss’ extra offstage horns emulated on stage with mutes. Put that down to the credit crunch.

edwardseckerson.biz

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

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.

    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
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week