Proms 56-58 | Albert Hall London/Radio 3

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The Independent Culture

Applauding between movements is fine when it is the spontaneous exception. But at least let it be enthusiastic, not the feeble trickle that punctuated Mozart's majestic C major Piano Concerto, K503 on Sunday. Richard Goode's limpid, affectionate yet toughly disciplined playing of the solo part deserved better - not to mention his own meaty cadenza in the first movement, which was conscientious in its survey of themes, imposing, and included an idiomatic purple patch. The balance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiri Belohlavek was also better than you hear on many recordings; the piano's accompanimental felicities remained audible, yet clearly secondary, in passages where the orchestra had the main matter.

Applauding between movements is fine when it is the spontaneous exception. But at least let it be enthusiastic, not the feeble trickle that punctuated Mozart's majestic C major Piano Concerto, K503 on Sunday. Richard Goode's limpid, affectionate yet toughly disciplined playing of the solo part deserved better - not to mention his own meaty cadenza in the first movement, which was conscientious in its survey of themes, imposing, and included an idiomatic purple patch. The balance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiri Belohlavek was also better than you hear on many recordings; the piano's accompanimental felicities remained audible, yet clearly secondary, in passages where the orchestra had the main matter.

The evening's novelty was Arvo Pärt's setting for soprano and full orchestra of Psalms 42 and 43 - in Spanish, as the work was commissioned by the Canary Islands Festival last year. The testing vocal part is measured and wide-ranging, exploiting Patricia Rozario's rich low notes, her ability to sustain a steady line with very little vibrato (though not always without a wobble), and pushing her high above the brass climax to the words "Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him."

Sometimes there's a Spanish flavour that I haven't heard in Pärt's music before - the dark opening and bitter-sweet orchestral dissonances at the start of the second section, and the long, brooding pedal point of the close. A lot of the orchestral writing is rather like painting by numbers, slotted in behind and around the voice, with some attractive touches of colour from woodwind and percussion to offset the static obsessiveness of Pärt's harmony. It wouldn't have been like Pärt to introduce contrasts of tempo, but I longed to tinker with his monotonous pacing.

The late-night Prom on Sunday was given by the Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and centred on Brett Dean's powerful showpiece Twelve Angry Men - somehow timeless in its free style and contrapuntal vigour - and Jean Françaix's charming, fizzy Aubade, in the Gallic tradition of popular light classicism. These effectively contrasted pieces were framed by Villa-Lobos's winsome Bachianas Brasileiras Nos 1 and 5, in which the deliciously silken soprano was the Colombian-born Juanita Lascarro; as a bonus she added a plaintive song about a street urchin by Astor Piazzolla, singing with artless warmth and naturalness.

Miraculously, nobody clapped between the movements of Bruckner's Seventh Symphony on Monday. For once, the sense of concentration in the packed hall was really palpable, and the Berlin Philharmonic - with Bernard Haitink replacing the indisposed Claudio Abbado - gave everyone, I imagine, what they had come for.

The orchestral texture built up from an opening on the brink of silence, and it was wonderful to see every string player playing for all he or she was worth. The Albert Hall is certainly the place to hear Bruckner's radiant climaxes given their head. Haitink gave the rests their full value, too, and was none too indulgent in his phrasing. A very modern reading in its technical polish and tight discipline.

Radio 3 will rebroadcast Proms 56 (Mozart/Pärt) & 58 (Bruckner) on Friday and Monday respectively at 2pm

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