The Temple at Karnak builds from the solid tread of the opening, cut through by a blare of trumpets, via a sequence of faster transformations of this basic material to end with a varied sequence incorporating a portrait of the huge-seated Colossi at Memnon. Though earlier composers have been there before her - Richard Strauss, for example - Bingham's piece sounds oddly immediate and unhackneyed: not as obviously atmospheric as her artistic or musical starting points might suggest but demonstrating a strong sense of drama, as well as some clever orchestration.
Shostakovich's hour-long, epic Eleventh Symphony, subtitled "The Year 1905", should have been the high point of the concert. But the opening portrayal of the Winter Palace Square didn't have the authentic chill and the orchestra only fitfully rose to the full horror and splendour of the symphony's series of tableaux. Neither did the orchestra's principal conductor, Yakov Kreizberg, manage to bring to such sometimes crude-seeming Soviet propaganda the same tautness and depth that he had revealed in the orchestra's Prom performance this summer.
The revelation of the evening was a highly-charged reading of Elgar's Enigma Variations. Kreizberg can appear a cold fish. Here, however, was a performance which lovingly as well as expertly took the varnish off a work the orchestra, but presumably not the conductor, encounters often. Its heart was, quite naturally, in "Nimrod", taken slowly and convincingly built to a grand climax. In the next variation, as elsewhere, this conductor's familiar grasp of detail could readily be admired. The work's final rallentando was positively Bernstein-like, yet in context perfectly convincing. Is Kreizberg mellowing in the Dorset air?Reuse content