Prom 19: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/ Marc Albrecht <br/> Prom 22: BBC Philharmonic/ Gianandrea Noseda, Royal Albert Hall, London ***/***

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The Independent Culture

It has become a cliché of commentators to flatter the Promenaders as "the best audience in the world". And the most open-minded? All too well can one imagine the turning up of noses at the prospect of Prom 19: "Oh, it's only the BBC Scottish. Vaguely heard of the conductor; never heard of the singer." So they stay away - and miss a splendid concert.

Conductor Marc Albrecht already has a thriving career in Germany. His opening account of Brahms' Variations on the St Anthony Chorale was clear-cut, yet subtle in articulation. He was joined by Danish bass-baritone Johan Reuter for the UK premiere of Four Preludes and Serious Songs, in which Brahms' sombre culminating song set has been idiomatically orchestrated by contemporary German composer Detlev Glanert, and linked by a sequence of preludes and an epilogue of his own.

Taking Brahms' materials only a little beyond Brahmsian style - the third prelude builds briefly into a faintly expressionistic waltz -Glanert has honoured the originals with a genuine affection. And Albrecht revealed himself as a natural Straussian in his firm yet flexible unfolding of the long lines and dazzling textures of Ein Heldenleben. Exquisite characterisation of the solo violin episode by leader Elizabeth Layton; thrilling apostrophes from the horns. Only the BBC Scottish, indeed!

Prom 22 got a full house; but then Gianandrea Noseda is, rightly, admired, and the symphony was Schubert's ever-popular No 9 in C major. Before that we heard Haydn's Mass in B flat major, "Heiligmesse". With a sweet-toned quartet of young soloists and neat articulation from BBC Singers, Philharmonic and Noseda, it sounded lively but miniaturised.

Noseda's Schubert proved light-footed - almost Mendelssohnian in those galloping finale string passages. But this was a reading that went very much for the long view - the work's huge paragraphs held tautly together from first to last.

BBC Proms to 9 September 020-7589 8212; www.bbc.co.uk/proms

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