Proms 65/67, Hamelin/Goode/BBCNOW/Steen//LSO/Davis, Royal Albert Hall (3/5, 5/5)
Monday 05 September 2011
Michael Berkeley’s Organ Concerto had its premiere in Ely 24 years ago, but it’s only now had its London premiere.
Why did nobody love it enough to play it in the meantime? Organist David Goode has come to the rescue, arguing that it’s a ‘significant part’ of the organ repertoire. Heralded by a bell, its opening is perfectly suited to the Proms, with three trumpeters interlacing chromatically from different parts of the auditorium, suggesting an enchanted garden of sounds.
The organ adds its voice with jabbing tone-clusters, echoing and being echoed by the orchestra: the textures are interesting, but after ten minutes you realise that textures – despite the programme’s promise of drama and passion – are all that’s on offer. But it was fastidiously played, with Goode and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Jac van Steen maintaining an impressive linkage across the space between them.
As Proms go, this was one of the less cleverly-programmed, with first half and second half having absolutely nothing to do with each other. Its centre of gravity was Rachmaninov’s ‘Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini’, with Marc-Andre Hamelin at the piano. Hamelin’s virtuosity was as dazzling as usual, but there was something missing: a weight and generosity in the tone, the sound of that heavy Russian nostalgia which makes this composer’s music so haunting when it’s played as it should be. But the audience gave Hamelin an ovation, as they did the evening’s other works, with the genial Edwardian banality of Elgar’s ‘Cockaigne (In London Town)’ being answered by the Gypsy breeziness of Kodaly’s ‘Hary Janos Suite’.
After witnessing the BBC Symphony Orchestra murder Beethoven’s Ninth in Prom 61, it was sweet relief to hear its companion-masterpiece, Beethoven’s ‘Missa Solemnis’, delivered by the London Symphony Orchestra - plus the London Symphony and Philharmonic choirs - under the direction of the ever-valiant Sir Colin Davis, who turns 84 this month. No praise can be too high for the soloists – Helena Juntunen, Sarah Connolly, Paul Groves, and Matthew Rose – as they negotiated the cliffs and chasms of Beethoven’s chiaroscuro landscape: functioning as a quartet rather than as four soloists, they interwove their sound with that of the orchestra and choirs to sublime effect. Gordan Nikolitch’s exquisite violin solo set the seal on this mind-blowingly wonderful performance.
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor are reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 3 Giorgio Armani criticises the way some gay men dress saying 'a man has to be a man'
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: George Lucas admits he hasn't seen The Force Awakens trailer
Star Wars: Rogue One trailer: Watch the teaser for the Jedi-less Death Star heist film
Avengers: Age of Ultron: 'After credits' scene leaks online
Groundhog Day musical to premiere at Old Vic from Matilda theatre director
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate