Prom 16: CBSO/Oramo <br></br> Prom 17: Manchester Camerata/Boyd, Royal Albert Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

The CBSO's sweetness of tuning and timbral refinement were tested still further in the London premiere of Henri Dutilleux's recent orchestral song-sequence Correspondences, with the vivacious young Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan as soloist. This comprises settings of letters from Solzhenitsyn and Van Gogh, preceded by the poems of Prithwindra Mukherjee and Rilke, all meditating on human endurance in the cosmos. Maybe the vocal line was more notable for its responsiveness to the prose rhythms than for lyrical reach - though Hannigan made something touching of the envoi to the Solzhenitsyn. But the scoring was often mesmerising, and the 89-year-old French composer warmly received.

The second half opened with Stravinsky's early Scherzo fantastique, a study in fizzing, airborne textures, which Oramo and the CBSO dispatched with dazzling precision. They then switched to the vibrant colours and broad rhetoric of Musorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition in Ravel's orchestration, crowning the concert with a "Great Gate of Kiev" of surpassing grandeur and weight.

For those who stayed on, the luck of the evening held with the remarkably impressive Proms debut of the Manchester Camerata under Douglas Boyd. After a warm, lithe account of Beethoven's Prometheus Overture, Boyd directed about the clearest account of the sometimes tangled textures of Tippett's Divertimento on Sellinger's Round that I have heard.

That rising young soprano Kate Royal then delivered a pair of Mozart concert arias, one of them, the tricky "Bella mia fiamma", with full-toned expressiveness. And Boyd ended with an account of Beethoven's Symphony No 8 in F major that found a near-ideal balance between neatness and earthiness, wit and affection, all phrased, paced and played with unconstrained musicality. This fine chamber orchestra deserves a full-length Prom next year.

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