CLASSICAL MUSIC / Review: The enigma ovations: Robert Cowan on the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at the Proms

Daniel Jones . . ?' muttered the somewhat disapproving lady behind me, 'I've never heard of him]' And yet, when Tadaaki Otaka brought Jones's 1976 Dance Fantasy to its rumbustious close, hers were among the loudest cheers. It was an auspicious opener, one to raise the spirits, what with its vivid prime colours, lyrical interludes and friendly resonances of Britten and Stravinsky.

The hall was already stifling and fans flickered like butterflies as the gentle opening to Delius's Walk to the Paradise Garden cast its spell. That wonderful moment when the solo clarinet first confides the main theme was impeccably timed, but thereafter smoothness went proxy for passion, and the serenely peaceful central section sounded more like Wagner's Parsifal than Delius's A Village Romeo and Juliet.

No, the star act was unquestionably Nobuko Imai, swaying in earnest to virtually every bar of Walton's deep mahogany Viola Concerto and inspiring the audience to applaud after each movement. Imai was on top form, and although her tone carried with less weight and security than, say, Yuri Bashmet's might have done, her musicianship and sense of line were mightily impressive. The scherzo found her leading the pack, with Otaka and his players in obedient tow, while the finale's huge fugal build-up heralded a deeply reflective epilogue - the high spot of a memorable performance.

The ovation was deafening, as it was for Elgar's First Symphony - but with far less justification. Perhaps it was the brass upstaging the strings that posed the biggest problem, or the lack of wistfulness in the first movement's many nostalgic interludes, or simply that the pain and pride that make each encounter with this wonderful score such a profound experience simply didn't register. Even the opening 'Nobilmente e semplice' sounded curiously matter-of-fact, while the ensuing allegro - one of the most dramatic and eventful in the repertory - seemed bereft of its native defiance. The scherzo, too, was more excitable than exciting; and when, towards the end of the movement, the basses grumble like distant thunder, their threats went for nothing. The main problem was, I fear, a lack of true conviction: I sympathised with the attentive promenader who stood, score in hand, urging things forward at each pivotal climax.

And when Elgar's music fails to convince, its stylistic origins start to sound more obvious: Wagner's there in the first movement, Reger in the second, Brahms and Wagner (Tristan, especially) in the third, and then Brahms again in the fourth. We're suddenly confronted with the strangely unfamiliar - although Heaven knows how many times the Proms have witnessed those stirring final pages - with the motto theme reigning triumphant amidst convulsive leaps from the whole orchestra. But here the tingle factor was singularly lacking, and all I could feel as the audience yelled its approval was a sense of bewilderment. Had I missed something? Luckily, my guilt was assuaged as I left the hall and caught a fragment of post-concert conversation: 'I fully approve of enthusiasm,' said one bemused promenader, 'but shouldn't there be some sense of discrimination?' Alas, I fear that on this occasion, at least, there wasn't.

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
The American stand-up Tig Notaro, who performed topless this week

Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars

Arts and Entertainment

TVNetflix gets cryptic

Arts and Entertainment
Claudia Winkleman is having another week off Strictly to care for her daughter
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Children in Need is the BBC's UK charity. Since 1980 it has raised over £600 million to change the lives of disabled children and young people in the UK

TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
    Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

    Look what's mushrooming now!

    Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
    Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

    Oeuf quake

    Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
    Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

    Terry Venables column

    Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
    Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin