Prom 55: BBC So/Saraste <br/> Prom 56: Ndrso/Dohnanyi <br/> Prom 57: Orch Des Champs-Elysees, Royal Albert Hall, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

There has been some daft programming in this year's Proms but none more so than in Prom 55. Whose idea was it to sandwich that most feminine of classical concertos, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, between two massive scores by Finns?

The scale of Magnus Lindberg's Sculpture, here receiving its UK premiere, must have been known since its premiere took place almost a year ago in Los Angeles. It's a homage to architect Frank Gehry and his remarkable Walt Disney Concert Hall. The work picks up on the shininess of materials used in Gehry's sculptural exterior and is thus brazenly brassy and brazenly celebratory - with the odd reference to Stravinsky. With 17 brass - let alone huge percussion section - the high energy battering made my ears (and brain) totally resistant to the illogical gear change to Mendelssohn.

Nikolaj Znaider was the violin soloist bringing brilliance rather than warmth. But there wasn't a great deal of warmth coming from conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste who went on to direct one of the dullest ever performances of Sibelius's Fifth Symphony.

The following night, Christoph von Dohnányi, gave a (mainly) scintillating performance with the fabulously disciplined NDR Symphony Orchestra of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, its quicksilver scherzo rightly encored. Before that, violinist Gil Shaham had despatched Stravinsky's concerto, showing off his phenomenal technique to little musical effect - is it the lure of the TV cameras? Shaham and Znaider come from the same drawer: the NDR wind principals could teach them a thing or two.

Prom 57 brought Philippe Herreweghe and his Collegium Vocale Gent and Orchestre des Champs-Elysées in an all-Mozart programme. The Requiem (completed by Süssmayr) came over as reverential but not urgent. Symphony 39 bounced along nicely but a reconstruction of Mozart's anguished Masonic Funeral Music using men's voices in the plainchant, was a damp squib.

BBC Proms to 9 September (020-7589 8212; www.bbc.co.uk/proms)

Comments