Proms 69/70: Lewis/RSNO/Deneve; Ensemble Matheus/Spinosi, Royal Albert Hall (3/5, 5/5)
Tuesday 07 September 2010
Playing all Beethoven’s piano concertos at the Proms with a variety of conductors and orchestras was always going to be a trial of nerve for Paul Lewis, and he’s come through – if not covered in glory – at least with colours flying.
Tackling the ‘Emperor’ concerto with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Stephane Deneve, he scored most effectively in those sections of the work where a refined allusiveness is called for: he spun out the first-movement development with graceful poise, and his cadenza was exquisite.
But as a whole, his performance of Beethoven’s most titanic concerto was under-projected. It didn’t help that the outer movements were taken a shade fast, but time and again what should have stood out in bold relief in Lewis’s playing came across like words half-swallowed. The orchestral playing, meanwhile, lacked sparkle and bite. With close miking Lewis probably sounded more incisive on radio, but he displayed none of the swagger needed to make this piece work in this vast hall.
Framed by Berlioz’s ‘Roman Carnival’ overture and Respighi’s ‘Pines of Rome’ – both stylishly delivered – this oddly-constructed concert also included the London premiere of three interludes from James Macmillan’s opera ‘The Sacrifice’, but even at 15 minutes that work’s compositional hyperactivity was a strain on the nerves. However, the late concert which followed, in which Jean-Christophe Spinosi and his period-instrument Ensemble Matheus made their Proms debut, royally redeemed the evening.
It was primarily a showcase for contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux and the amazing French counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky, and to hear the latter sing a Porpora aria originally written for the great castrato Farinelli was a revelation. Jaroussky’s sound is extraordinarily clean, pure, and expressive, with immaculate control in rapid coloratura passages. Meanwhile Lemieux has a huge battery of effects in her vocal locker, with a baritonal richness at the bottom; she’s also a consummate drama-queen, which came in handy for her deranged lament in Vivaldi’s ‘Orlando Furioso’. But the joy of this concert lay as much in how Spinosi and his band of string players interacted with the singers, and with their brilliant flute and recorder soloists; surrounded by the delicate tracery of Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins RV 513, we were in string heaven.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 London council removes 'unacceptable' Stamford Hill posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan in new celebrity hacking attack weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 Matthew Miller: American sentenced to hard labour in North Korea 'wanted to be Snowden II'
- 5 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea's 'Booty' music video is just a load of butts
Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without influential comedy series
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'