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 Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
- 5 SAG Awards: Fake applause track interrupts Reese Witherspoon
Mr Selfridge series 3: Actress Kara Tointon says 'we're starting to see his demise'
Ed Sheeran texts Noel Gallagher to offer him tickets after Wembley Stadium rant
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Game of Thrones season 5: IMAX releases new trailer with first look footage of Tyrion Lannister
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks