Prom 9: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / Sinaisky, Royal Albert Hall, London
Saturday 24 July 2010
It’s the highlight of every “Last Night”, the nation’s unofficial National Anthem, but for its composer Hubert Parry Jerusalem has proved as much of a millstone (as opposed to milestone) as Land of Hope and Glory has for Elgar.
There’s no question that his younger contemporary overshadowed him and thoroughly outplayed him at his own game - but Proms like this one can go some way towards redressing the balance and for those of us who’d never heard Parry’s Symphonic Fantasia in B minor (Symphony No.5) a few surprises, to say nothing of a new-found “respect”, were in store.
The really clever, coherent thing about this close-knit piece – four movements linked as one – is the emotional memory that Parry carries forward with the development and transformation of his themes. The second of them – a kind of love-child of Brahms and Elgar – achieves a gorgeous harmonic flowering and deepening significance in the slow movement – and by the time the germinal motif “comes home” on horns at the opening of the finale and a trio of solo strings with harp radiantly restore optimism (or is that hopeful pessimism?) we briefly forget that this is 1912 and the storm clouds of catastrophe are gathering.
The BBC Philharmonic under Vassily Sinaisky were generous in their advocacy of it - and then to be asked to turn up the heat and further the cause of Scriabin’s Piano Concerto might be considered above and beyond the call for one half of a concert. Chopin is the name most often invoked when discussing the pianistic character of this piece but that’s surely to downplay just how “out there” the young Scriabin already was from a harmonic perspective. The deceptively slight Nelson Goerner opened up much intrigue between the hands in that respect and besides his impressive bravura what really came across here was his in-the-moment sense of the keyboard writing’s improvisatory nature. Terrific.
But maybe there was simply too much for the BBC Philharmonic to chew on for one evening because their performance of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony never really happened. A few too many untidinesses and a certain circumspection about the big moments – not least that of the first movement development spilling over as it does into grief-stricken sostenuto – left one consistently wanting more. Sinaisky managed the fade-to-black at the close well enough but the performance had long felt “spent” in quite the wrong sense.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food