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.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Enrique Iglesias injured trying to catch a drone mid concert
- 2 Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, reveals new look on Annie Leibovitz shot Vanity Fair cover
- 3 Arsenal players boo chief-executive Ivan Gazidis after being told they would not get bonus for FA Cup triumph
- 4 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 5 UK weather: Temperatures set to soar making parts of Britain hotter than parts of the Mediterranean
The 1975 leave social-media after tweeting cryptic comic strip hinting at break up
Britain's Got Talent 2015 final: Winner Matisse had secret dog double, says owner Jules O'Dwyer
Top Gear to follow Have I Got News For You format with 'different host for each episode'
Britain's Got Talent final 2015: Ofcom receives 90 complaints about Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden's 'revealing dresses'
Ed Sheeran debuts new love song 'Sweet Mary Jane' about relationship with weed
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history