Prom 50: London SO/ Davis
Prom 51: Gustav Mahler YO/Jordan, Royal Albert Hall
Monday 28 August 2006
Two poor attendances for attractive programmes. Sir Colin Davis and the LSO have provided highlights of recent seasons; they did so again with Berlioz and Elgar. The huge introduction and momentum of the former's Les francs-juges overture exemplified one of the classic composer-conductor pairings of our time.
As for Elgar's No 2, music all too easily played like a state funeral emerged as a tumult of shifting harmonies overwhelmed in turn by brass and lamenting strings, of panic and reconciliation, of ecstasy recollected in tranquillity and a final redemptive glow.
Just as powerful was James MacMillan's The Confession of Isobel Gowdie. This composer's major Proms commission has been regularly revisited; 16 years on, it sounds fresher than some of his subsequent works. It's the second half that catches fire, after a rather inflated series of crescendos and ponderous percussion. The LSO took well to its accumulations of strings, and Davis found something more threatening in its final crescendo than the "simple gesture of triumphant joy" described by its composer.
The Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, a European, pre-professional band picked each year, began at its best with an impressively horny performance of Don Juan by Richard Strauss. Violins had weight, colour and flexibility, given a supple rubato by the conducting of Philippe Jordan, which also secured finely balanced touches of horn and woodwind. That this music is perfect for the age-group was exemplified in a lusciously phrased oboe solo midway.
Another take on adolescent highs and lows, the Poème de l'amour et de la mer by Chausson, brought a more blended sound to support Susan Graham's sumptuous, forthright voice in a performance that intensified as the music sank towards its terminal gloom.
Sadly, the Symphony No 6 by Shostakovich failed to penetrate its often brilliant surfaces. In sympathetic hands, this music appears to take a winding path from the sanatorium to the circus; here, it began in a big freeze and ended as a scary military march.
BBC Proms, to 9 September (020-7589 8212; www.bbc.co.uk/proms)
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
- 5 Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
Game of Thrones season 4 blooper reel unveiled at Comic-Con 2014
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Doctor Who series 8: Watch Peter Capaldi in new ‘Listen!’ teaser trailer
Coolio has sold his soul to Pornhub
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc