Proms

Muldowney: Trombone Concerto Royal Albert Hall, London
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The Independent Culture
Concertos are back with a vengeance at this year's Proms. Dominic Muldowney's Trombone Concerto, unveiled on Monday night by Christian Lindberg and the BBC Philharmonic under Yan Pascal Tortelier, is the first of seven new concertos as well as this year's first commission.

Muldowney is something of a dab hand at the form - his Trombone Concerto is the seventh concerto he's written. He describes it as a fight between two motifs - the time-honoured BACH cipher and the first six notes of the signature tune of Hancock's Half Hour. The pawky Hancock tag isn't really recognisable until the last movement. The BACH motif is rather overworked in the first, where the soloist plays continuously, in the impersonal, academic form of a fugue. Although Christian Lindberg is an athlete, the performance seemed on the steady side. He had a chance to wax lyrical in the slow middle movement but, as in both outer movements, it was the quiet, mysteriously sustained orchestral background that really caught my ear. It also had the final word, with two flutes left dangling in parallel thirds.

The piece is meant to mediate between the comical and serious aspects of the trombone's character, as symbolised by those two motifs and their associations. It did this quite skilfully. Inevitably, perhaps, there's just a passing suggestion in the finale of Richard Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel, the prototype of modern orchestral jokers, but that's no bad thing.

The themes of creation and re-creation have been somewhat casually offered for us to make of them what we like in the next eight weeks. Among the other works last night, Robin Holloway's orchestration of Chabrier's Bourree fantasque didn't quite make the level of Ravel's transformation of Mussorgsky's title Pictures from an Exhibition, but then what would? Re-creation, or revival, was also represented by Albert Roussel's wonderful ballet, Bacchus et Ariane - all of it, for once, rather than the concert suite. This witty, fast-moving score may be neo-classical, yet it owes nothing to Stravinsky. The BBC Philharmonic played it with panache. Amazing, but nothing by Roussel has been performed at the Proms since Eugene Goossens conducted the Third Symphony in 1961.

n Daily prom competition, page 25. Proms box-office: 0171-589 8212

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