Prom 49: LPO / Masur <br></br> Prom 50: BBC CO/Belohlavek, Royal Albert Hall, London **/***

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The Independent Culture

Gubaidulina's new work, a single span of 25 minutes, is somewhat lighter in mood than her last vast work for orchestra, the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ according to St John, heard so memorably in the 2002 Proms. A vast orchestra is again required, and her orchestral colours are extraordinary. Spacious, logical, repetitive, spare, communicative, describes this bleak - but occasionally dancing - piece. The LPO players were exemplary, and Gubaidulina's deep spirituality was profoundly conveyed.

Not so in the Beethoven, a heavy, slow, Teutonic rendition with no hint of "period" influence. Masur scarcely sculpted a phrase, barely allowed the score to swell, and deplorably failed to insist on tight, dramatic articulation of Schiller's vivid words from his soloists. An ill-matched quartet - Christiane Libor (a late substitute), Jean Rigby (a fairly late substitute), Thomas Studebaker and Hanno Müller-Brachmann - did not help. Only Müller-Brachmann performed with any distinction. The vast choir of the Finchley Children's Music Group and London Philharmonic were impeccably tuned. But it remained mundane.

Not so the BBC SO in their first Prom with Jiri Belohlavek since he was named chief conductor-designate. Already the orchestra appears in better heart, playing with clarity and vitality, as amply demonstrated in Stravinsky's 1945 Firebird Suite.

The current BBC Radio 3 New Generation artist, Llyr Williams, the soloist in Schumann's piano concerto, was muffled in sound and curiously out of line emotionally. His rubati fell in the wrong places and there was little rapport between soloist and orchestral principals.

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