Prom 1: BBC SO / Norrington, Royal Albert Hall, London
Monday 18 July 2005
Certainly not the swashbuckling Berlioz overture, The Corsair. Guest conductor Sir Roger Norrington drew from the BBC Symphony Orchestra some of the most vivid, fleet-footed playing that this often phlegmatic orchestra has produced in living memory. How Norrington does it is presumably down to rehearsal tricks, since his flamboyant gestures a legendary distraction.
The Mendelssohn Violin Concerto was equally lithe and exact, with an eager collaborator in the soloist Janine Jansen. The habit of dropping almost to silence, mesmerising the first time, gave her diminishing returns, but the transparency of the final movement, helped by imaginative attention to orchestral detail, was something to relish.
After this, the concert's character changed. Norrington spoke of the concert's dedication in memory to the London bomb victims with eloquence and wit. Elgar's overture Cockaigne, he said - "the land of the Cockney, not the land of cocaine" - seems to celebrate the sturdiness and tolerance of London. Fortunately the music needs no apology, though this performance was unexpectedly staid. Nothing understated about the Tippett. This complex, troubled and humane oratorio, sparked off when a young Jew assassinated a Nazi official, takes in abuse of power, revenge and reprisal, and a meditation on human fallibility that implores us to accept our own dark side in order to cope with anybody else's. Tippett's text is an honest British muddle, and the music follows suit - tracts of ingenious but nondescript grey, and sudden great bursts of light.
The first of these, an agonised tango-like lament for solo tenor, gave Ian Bostridge a lyrical if rather strait-laced chance to shine. Indra Thomas and Christine Rice sang warmly, but it took Sir Willard White's bass to add the necessary dimension of implacability. The biggest moments are inspirational settings of five spirituals, which the BBC Symphony Chorus delivered with a compelling single-mindedness.
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
‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors: 'I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK'
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Photographer Matt Lankes' portraits of the cast of Boyhood influenced the film's storyline
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'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