sun 24/09/2017

BBC Proms: Schiff, Hallé, Elder | reviews, news & interviews

BBC Proms: Schiff, Hallé, Elder

BBC Proms: Schiff, Hallé, Elder

Top pianist's Bartók shines amidst interpretatively mixed masterworks

Elder: fine with orchestral colour, less good on movementChris Christodoulou

It was partly as penance for having missed the previous evening's Czech festival that I arena-prommed for last night's Moravian finale, to be happily strafed by the nine extra trumpets of Janáček's Sinfonietta. I hadn't quite expected to be so on the edge of my first-half seat in wonder at the little miracles of Sibelius's Op 66 Scènes historiques, genius personality more apparent in the first two chords than in all but the last minute or so of Havergal Brian's two-hour Gothic Symphony (but let's not go there again). In between, Sir Mark Elder's conducting didn't always keep his Mancunians on their toes - András Schiff's Bartók effortlessly did - but it was all great music and vintage Proms programming.


I wonder whether Sir Mark over-compensated for the more reverberant acoustic of the Royal Albert Hall after last weekend's Wagner as he has conducted a marvellous Sibelius 7 in Bridgewater Hall in the past. The Janáčekwas admittedly slower than other exponents of Czech music have conducted it but from near the front of the arena I heard things I've never noticed before, like the cellos chugging away at the beginning of the last movement. There was a fantasic stereo spread of the 26 brass players at the end.

The Janáček was passionless and a great disappointment. I still have fond memories of Mackerras who brought so much expression to the Czech master's music.

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