Prom 41: West-Eastern Divan Orchestra / Barenboim, Royal Albert Hall, London
Wednesday 17 August 2005
The programme was announced as Mozart and Mahler. How inspired to begin with Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon. Oboist Mohamed Saleh, from Cairo, is the sort of talent that comes round once in a lifetime. Here was a star, intuitively phrasing and colouring in the manner of a truly great player. And from the reduced orchestra, Barenboim coaxed the warmest of sounds: squarely central European, elegant, precise, charming.
Mahler's First Symphony fielded the entire orchestra - including nine horns. At times, it was impossible to think that this was not one of the world's great orchestras. The opening serene hush, the aggressive "cuckoos", the graceful string glissandi, the dynamic detail and colouring, gave way in the second movement to fresh, rumbustious Tyrolean dancing. But it was in the third and fourth movements that Barenboim demonstrated his ability to pace transitions while willing and seducing the orchestra to join in relishing every nuance, every cataclysmic climax.
The audience went wild. Elgar's Nimrod was not enough to calm. Barenboim quietened the house. He spoke of the courage of every single player on stage. He spoke of an act of solidarity: next week they play in Ramallah. And then they played work by a composer proscribed in Israel, Wagner's "Prelude and Liebestod". The effect was overwhelming.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If I were Prime Minister: I'd give tax cuts to the rich, keep Trident, and get my football team wrong
- 2 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show