Prom 51: LSO/Haitink, Royal Albert Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

The tone of the slow and mighty string-dominated first movement was elemental, the control of vibrato levels astute, the ebb and flow of textural and emotional contrasts convincingly powered with a firm symphonic grasp. The fast middle section of this movement, with its seismic interruption, had an inevitability about it that seemed to shake this audience by its collective throat.

Everyone, that is, apart from the man next to me, who chose one of the most shattering moments to start leafing idly through his programme, while someone else's mobile phone went off. At least there was no applause at the end of the movement, so often a curse at the Proms.

And the remaining four built surely on these foundations. The energy of the march-cum-scherzo came as splendid relief; the stark relentlessness of the third movement was pressed home vigorously, with the near-caricatures of its middle section's trumpet solo and military accompaniment wickedly drawn. The spooky dislocations of the slow fourth movement were all the more effective for being somewhat suppressed; and the restless thematic amalgam of the finale was sculpted with both rigour and passion. Just what the Proms are for, and a full house, too.

In the all-Ravel first half, the LSO had been alert and precise in Alborada del gracioso. But the start of the G-major Piano Concerto was cautious, nervy and a little ragged, and the orchestra never entirely recovered from this. Hélène Grimaud, on the other hand, was an assured and captivating soloist, nowhere more so than in the understated simplicity of her long solo at the start of the slow movement.