Prom 59, Proms Chamber Music 7 - reviews: Semyon Bychkov presides over a magnificent 'Elektra'

As Benjamin Grosvenor delivers his usual flawless pianism

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The Independent Culture

The second night of the Strauss Proms, in which Semyon Bychkov conducted a stellar cast of soloists plus the BBC Singers and Symphony Orchestra in Elektra, was sheer magnificence from its volcanic opening phrase to the heroine’s dying fall.

And Christine Goerke’s performance in the title role was no less powerful in this minimally-staged event than it was in Covent Garden’s fully-staged version last year.

Her huge sound had a dark opulence for which Gun-Brit Barkmin’s light-soprano Chrysothemis made a plangent foil; Johann Reuter’s Orest sounded as if he was indeed coming from the far-side of the grave.

Under Bychkov’s magisterial baton the seven terse scenes of this quintessentially Freudian work unfolded with inexorable force, from Elektra’s sadistic game of cat-and-mouse with her mother (Felicity Palmer as the haunted Clytemnestra), to her mounting elation at the murderous climax.

Benjamin Grosvenor’s chamber Prom provided the expected feast of flawless pianism, including a rather dour Judith Weir premiere. But we must hope that whoever is next entrusted with the direction of the Proms corrects a long-standing and glaring anomaly: while the programme-notes for the Albert Hall events are lavish in the extreme, lunchtime Proms don’t get any at all. Why so? Are these regarded by the BBC as Cinderella events?