Prom Saturday Matinee, review: Tim Gill and Rebecca Bottone shine in two classics by Peter Maxwell Davies

Cadogan Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

It was heart-warming to see Peter Maxwell Davies march up on stage to introduce a concert of his own music which he had curated to celebrate his eightieth birthday: this time last year, his leukaemia specialist had given him just six weeks to live.

Each of the three works he had chosen for the London Sinfonietta under Sian Edwards to play at this Proms matinee had that super-bright mercuriality which characterises his music at its best.

First we got Linguae ignis with Tim Gill as the cello soloist, following an exquisite arc from grave seriousness to anarchic abandon and back to gravity again.

Gill found exactly the right idiom for the neo-Bartokian opening and closing sections, and the intervening anarchy allowed the Sinfonietta to show what a virtuoso ensemble they are, as did the crazily convoluted figurations of Maxwell Davies’s 1976 work A Mirror of Whitening Light.

But the piece de resistance was the early work Revelation and Fall, Max’s setting of a wildly Expressionist poem by Georg Trakl for which Rebecca Bottone took the vertiginously difficult solo part.

Angular, atonal, and with constant melismatic swoops and slides, this was a challenge few other sopranos would have dared confront: Bottone pulled it off with ease.