Proms 2013: Best of the rest No 2


Prom 26: Ollie Knussen and Peter Serkin were fantastic in a delicious Prom of 20th Century music that ranged over Henze, Stravinsky and Tippett.  Henze's Barcarola was given a gutsy, intimate and telling performance - Knussen didn't spare us anything in this music written in memory of composer Paul Dessau by Henze and premiered in 1979. It was moving to be reminded me how Henze has been championed at the proms over the years and rightly so.  This is an angry masterpiece. The Tippett Second Symphony was enough to convince me to stop putting this composer to one side. The Stravinsky concerto - less elegant than Ravel's but packing more punch - was beautifully done. BBC Symphony Orchestra showing they can slip into just about any style with easy command. For me the hidden treasure was Serkin's encore - a tiny eloquent song "I just sing" by Takemitsu, so beautifully rendered in that eerie reverential silence only available at the proms.

Prom 29: Despite the fact I haven't finished all my Wagner posts - worth mentioning the excellent Tannhauser from Donald Runnicles and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. On the radio, and apparently, the singing was of the highest order. Off stage brass, chorus and Albertopolis Ambience all beautifully caught. After some trails, I'm finally starting to enjoy some of Runnicles' conducting his Beethoven Fifth (Prom 28) was a a refreshingly stylish view to unhitch the symphony from all of its portentous baggage. Swagger was replaced with a lighter confidence. I was slightly concerned by the very straight-laced Blue Danube which opened the concert - but it's a distant memory compared to the eloquent woodwind accompaniments in Tannhauser which were divine.

Prom 27: I tried twice to get Sohol's The Cosmic Dance - each time left baffled but its lack of progress. Delightful figures repeated often need a bit more variation or transformation in my book. Oundjian and Lugansky produced a crisp and lively account of Rachmaninov's Third Piano concerto. Lugansky elucidated parts of the piano part one doesn't often hear - though I think his piano was too closely miked to get a good appreciation of his sound. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra make a fantastic sound. 

Prom 21 - Colin Matthew's Turning Point was well played - it's a fitful and powerful piece on first acquaintance. Hope it gets more performances. The rest of the concert was a little flat - Hope is a lauded violinist but I switched his Prokofiev off. Similarly there was something tired about the Shostakovich symphony. It's description of that dramatic historic incident is somewhat dawn out, but there's plenty of tension in this music and I'm sorry to say I didn't hear much of on this occasion. Memories of Michael Tilson-Thomas and the SFS live long in my mind.

Thoughts on earlier Proms are here


Popular Posts