PROMS / CBSO / Rattle - Royal Albert Hall, London SW7

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The Independent Culture
Just three days into this year's Proms came the first revelation: Roberto Gerhard's ballet Don Quixote, originally realised at Covent Garden in 1950 by Ninette de Valois, but on Sunday given its first complete UK concert performance by Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

The vicissitudes of Gerhard's fractured career explain the hiatus. A Schoenberg pupil and refugee from Franco's Spain, he found uneasy exile in Cambridge, regarded by a few, yet remaining on the fringes of the musical establishment. If his reputation has stood in the balance since his death in 1970, this exotic, splendidly varied score should tip the scales in his favour.

The language is eclectic - tonal and atonal elements blended in a way which admits both a traditional Spanish flavour and a delicate, Stravinskian finesse. The essence of ballet being physical movement, there's an abundance of glittering surface rhythm; also, a powerful underlying rhythm between individual numbers that works with thematic variation and recurrence to give this half-hour piece symphonic gravity.

The muscular joy of Janacek's Glagolitic Mass came in complete contrast to Quixote's rapt visions of Dulcinea and the Golden Age. The effect was thrilling - a Rattle classic, this - with the CBSO Chorus singing from memory from first to last in the tailormade acoustic of the Albert Hall.