Prom 66: Royal Academy / Davis, Prom 68: Now / Gamba, Royal Albert Hall, London
Wednesday 07 September 2005
The first half featured wartime pieces from the last century. Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, usually seen as affirmative, went so slowly and severely that the percussion in particular turned thoroughly menacing. In Vaughan Williams's Symphony No 6, the number of players and the unrelenting drive of Sir Colin Davis's conducting made for unexpected parallels with Shostakovich's music of the same time, taking the piece a long way from its usual image of disrupted English idylls.
But the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique was the evening's musical summit. The orchestra was able to pick up Davis's rhythmic subtlety as though it had been playing with him for decades, and the result, with its relish, pace and (mostly) precision, was the most all-encompassing of the many performances I have heard from him. Violins were the outstanding section, but individual players also shone: cor anglais, E flat clarinet, principal timpanist.
The ostensible interest two nights later with the National Orchestra of Wales centred on Alan Rawsthorne's Piano Concerto No 2. It's beautifully judged and laid out, the quieter the better. Yet there's only one theme that really sticks, the Latin-Caribbean one that opens the finale. For all Howard Shelley's poetry and vigour as soloist, the concerto 50 years on rarely had enough of its own to say.
Instead, the lasting memories of the concert will be of conductor Rumon Gamba bringing off an outrageously accelerating finale in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 4, and wonderful shades of pizzicato in the movement before. A shame, then, that, as in the Britten Sea Interludes, the pace was sometimes too fast for proper excitement, though the big picture was drawn with boldness and allowed woodwind solos to shine.
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Syrian refugee child beaten by Istanbul Burger King manager for eating customer’s leftover food
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction
Alfred Hitchcock's unseen Holocaust documentary to be screened
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Photographer Matt Lankes' portraits of the cast of Boyhood influenced the film's storyline
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners