Receiving its world premiere in Prom 28 with the excellent Philip Dukes (viola) and Josephine Knight (cello) and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Jac van Steen, it's traditional in form - three movements (fast-slow-fast) and quite easy on the ear. But two mellow solo instruments risk oblivion against an orchestra, let alone in the Albert Hall. It's very well scored for Classical orchestra so that only rarely was one or other soloist momentarily obscured.
After big, fat chords in the first movement, the soloists tend to play in rhythmic unison - scarily difficult in high registers - or follow each other in well defined phrases. Watkins knows the strengths of both instruments and in the slow movement he allowed them to sing, intertwining their lines.
Prom 30, with the Gothenburg Symphony, saw Neeme Järvi laid low and the cub-conductor Gustavo Dudamel drafted in. Tchaikovsky's Francesca da Rimini was lacklustre, Dudamel jerky. Anne Sofie von Otter exuded calm in Mahler's Rückert-Lieder, despite Dudamel's grand signalling. Then Sibelius' Fifth Symphony, mother's milk to this orchestra, so Dudamel had little to worry about.
Prom 31 with the National Youth Orchestra showed our future orchestral players in fine fettle, but multiculturalism a dim hope. Under Tadaaki Otaka, an English programme sizzled, Paul Patterson's Orchestra on Parade beginning the concert with aplomb. Tippett's Ritual Dances and Elgar's First Symphony were dispatched seriously but with ease.