Prom 58: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Gardiner, Royal Albert Hall, London

4.00

If you didn’t know who was playing, the second theme of Dvorak’s Carnival Overture – clarinet in songful counterpoint with the homeliest of tunes in the violins - would have thoroughly given the game away. Only the Czech Philharmonic could phrase this music with such unassuming charm.

The conductor would have been harder to identify – if only because Sir John Eliot Gardiner - hardly, one would think, a natural for this repertoire - seemed so completely and utterly at home. Never underestimate Gardiner: his versatility knows no bounds because his musical instincts are second to none. Carnival came off the page like a giant party-popper.



A dramatic volte-face, then, to the dark side with Martinu’s last Symphony (No.6), Fantaisies symphoniques, written in exile in the USA and more than a little redolent of those Hitchcockian dreamscapes that begin with the camera spinning us into dizzying oblivion. Martinu’s whirring orchestra is in a state of perpetual flux, gurgling “underwater” bassoons and queasy ever-shifting harmonies making it hard to get a handle on any of the aspiring themes which struggle to assume supremacy in the midst of so much chaos. Only the sad and beautiful clarinet solo in the final Lento (quietly devastating) really tells it like it is. One long resonance of the tam-tam represents the death knell and the rest is a moving funeral oration. The technical precision of the performance wasn’t always there but the soul was.



The interloper at this all-Czech party, happily ensconced between two intervals, was Grieg. Lars Vogt played the ubiquitous Piano Concerto with conspicuous relish for its poetry and its grandstanding, quite literally flinging his big rhetorical gestures back into the orchestra who in turn attended its folksy themes as they might Dvorak or Smetana.



Speaking of folksiness, it was interesting getting two such different perspectives on the same Bohemian source material with the juxtaposition of Janacek’s The Ballad of Blanik and Dvorak’s 8th Symphony. Gardiner seemed to take a step back and let his cellos radiate in the opening theme of the symphony – but the upping of pace into the main allegro, like an over-zealous furiant, was all him. It was a performance fizzing with the spirit of Czech song and dance. Rollocking trills from horns and woodwinds kicked over the traces in the finale but my take-home moment was that very personal reverie, just prior to the rampant coda, which Gardiner and the orchestra phrased with such deep and abiding affection.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
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.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum