Prom 65: Royal Concertgebouw/Jansons
Prom 67: BBC SO/Conlon, Royal Albert Hall, London
Tuesday 06 September 2005
The flighty melodrama of Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra is full of folk song, flash and flamboyance. Bartók is an inspiring presence, nowhere more so than in the nocturnal scurryings of the virtuosic middle movement. In another life this buzzy moto perpetuo might have assumed the identity of Rimsky-Korsakov's proverbial bumble bee. Add to this the rhetoric of the outer movements with their Stravinskian ostinatos and brassy chorales and there isn't much left to call Lutoslawski. The real Lutoslawski had yet to stand up and be counted. But Jansons and the orchestra played this piece for all it was worth.
They did so again with Brahms' First Symphony. Among the pleasures renewed on this familiar road to sunny C major, none was more gratifying than the ecstatic joyfulness of the first oboe playing. That I could live with in perpetuity.
More Brahms - his German Requiem - followed in Prom 67 from the BBC Symphony Orchestra under James Conlon, but not before Vienna had trounced Hollywood on the Disneyfication stakes with a rare outing for Zemlinsky's take on Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid - Die Seejungfrau.
The passing beauties of the Brahms were well served by the BBC Symphony and Philharmonia choruses with Marie Arnet and Simon Keenlyside projecting the frailty of human existence and the promise of spiritual fulfilment - eternally. This is the greenest of requiems, celebrating life more than glorifying death. What a pity Brahms could not have been more universally inclusive with his title.
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