Prom 69: Chamber Orchestra Of Europe/ Ades, Prom 71: Vienna PO / Mehta, Royal Albert Hall, London

Click to follow

Three extracts from Berg's Wozzeck gave Katarina Dalayman the chance to demonstrate that long experience of a role on stage can reap vivid dividends in a concert performance (her characterisation of Marie was deeply moving). It also provided a splendid showpiece for the orchestra, which relished the crosscutting of sumptuous string textures, riotous military band music and all the other paraphernalia with which Berg packed his score.

The account of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring wasn't exactly the most elemental I've experienced; it wasn't error-free either. But while the string harmonics and six solo violas of the eerie opening stages of Part 2 were in danger of sounding more like Strauss than Stravinsky, the woodwind invested their playing with an unusually wide and entirely appropriate range of colours. A couple of Viennese encores brought us gloriously back to the band's centre of gravity to finish.

On the previous evening, Thomas Adès conducted the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in a mixed programme of classics and new music of the kind that's a Proms speciality. Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite and Beethoven's Fourth Symphony brimmed over with the energy and insight of first-rate musicians discovering every opportunity such sunny music offered them.

And there was also the British premiere, two days after its Berlin world premiere, of Adès's own new Violin Concerto. Subtitled "Concentric Paths", this three-movement work centres on a mainly slow movement that, like its shorter companions, is built from overlapping cyclic sequences.

As usual with Adès, it's not so much the materials themselves - descending and ascending chord sequences, simple and plain triads, familiar-sounding scraps of melody - that fascinate and move you; it's more the ever-surprising ways in which he combines, develops and orchestrates them. Anthony Marwood - in a blinding white suit and on his own bizarrely high little podium - captivated a large crowd in more ways than one.

Comments