Olga Trifonova made light of Stravinsky's ferocious demands, chirping and gurgling so high, so astonishingly true in pitch. Evgeny Akimov provided his focused tenor to the part of the Fisherman while Sergei Leiferkus as Emperor warmly shaped his phrases. Irish-born Ailish Tynan, too, made a convincing Russian, her diction and phrasing so natural in the part of Kitchenmaid.
James MacMillan's A Scotch Bestiary - enigmatic variations on a zoological carnival receiving its UK premiere, was a co-commission between the LA Philharmonic and the BBC. Both had organs to celebrate - the LA's new one in the Walt Disney Hall and the Royal Albert Hall's renovated instrument at the home of the BBC Proms. MacMillan has gone to town, providing Wayne Marshall with a massive concerto using massive volume - occasionally drowning the entire orchestra!
A Scotch Bestiary is structurally an updated Pictures at an Exhibition while spiritually a Carnival of the Animals. It's a brilliant work, breathtaking in its virtuoso writing. The first section displays the animals. Her serene and Ubiquitous Majesty, Queen Bee, had the organ buzzing around at top speed, while Jackass Hackass involved amplified typewriters. But MacMillan wouldn't be MacMillan without a wider horizon: the red-handed, no-surrender, howler monkey suggested recent US political views.
Fairy tales and beasts turned up again in Prom 15. Principal fairy was found in Stravinsky's ballet The Fairy's Kiss, Tchaikovsky refracted through Stravinsky's ears. It's a delectable score. The BBC Symphony Orchestra under John Storgards was on top form. Principal beasts came from Detlev Glanert, his Theatrum Bestiarum. Lyadov and Knussen completed an excellent programme.
These Proms can be heard online at www.bbc.co.uk/proms
- More about:
- Festive Events (including Carnivals)
- Igor Fyodorovitch Stravinsky
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
- Walt Disney