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.
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 2 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 3 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 4 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
- 5 Bryan Cranston speaks candidly about wealth
Anne Hathaway is already being stung by Hollywood ageism, aged 32
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series
The Lobster trailer: Colin Farrell has 45 days to find a lover or he'll be turned into an animal
Spanish town saved by botched restoration of century-old Christian 'Ecce Homo' fresco of Jesus
'Beasts of No Nation': Netflix releases trailer of first feature film, starring Idris Elba
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees