PROMS / BBC SO/Zagrosek - Royal Albert Hall & Radio 3

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The Independent Culture
Lothar Zagrosek had to work hard to draw the best out of the BBC SO in Tuesday evening's Prom. Opening with a workaday performance of Weber's overture Oberon, they continued in slack vein with Schumann's Spring Symphony. The rhythmic ensemble was often a little untidy and expressive tension low. Slowly Zagrosek concentrated his forces, however, and by the finale a freshly imagined poetry was emerging, and the playing was showing improvement.

With the appearance after the interval of the larger orchestra required for Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn, the playing reached its peak, and Zagrosek was able to conjure a range of the most magical textures in response to the music's images of a nave world beyond reality.

Whether in the grotesque humour of 'Lob des hohen Verstandes', the grisly parade of 'Revelge' or the innocent charm of 'Rheinlegendchen', the characterisations through instrumental timbre were complete, and soprano Yvonne Kenny and bass Wolfgang Schone lived in the songs' unique world entirely. There is something infinitely touching about hearing such intimate textures in this hall's big space: it emphasises that Mahler's past was beyond recalling, and although not always entirely clear, the performance's sound-world was paradoxically ideal.

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