Friday, 25 July 2008

Prom 10

To the Royal Albert Hall last night for Prom 10, performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Yevgeny Sudbin (piano) and Yan Pascal Tortelier (conductor). The programme consisted of Bax's In memoriam, Rachmaninov's 1st Piano Concerto and Vaughan Williams's 4th Symphony.

The Bax has long been known in short score but it was assumed that Bax had never orchestrated it. It was written in memory of an Irish Patriot who died in the Easter Uprising. Not surprisingly there was no performance during Bax's lifetime. In 1998 a full score came to light in a publisher's basement! The piece has been recorded but never performed in public. It proved to be a highly atmospheric piece, to my ears very reminiscent of Hamilton Harty's Irish themed tone poems.

Sudbin gave a highly poetic account of the solo part in the Rachmaninov, proving himself well able to stay on top of the cascades of notes. The results were dazzling, though there were moments when Tortelier allowed the robust orchestration to dominate the piano. I would have liked a bit more robust rawness in Sudbin's playing, but his account erred on the positive side.

In the 2nd half we had RVW's corruscating symphony in a performance which took no prisoners. From the opening dissonant motto theme, it was obvious that Tortelier's account of the score was one which emphasised the European links of RVW's music and played down the pastoral English element which is still present even in this symphony. In the 2nd movement Tortelier conjured an eerie world which was extremely reminiscent of the bi-tonal scores of RVW's friend Holst. For the finale the orchestra finished the performance is towering form. Their and Tortelier's account seemed to play up the dissonant, hard edged side of the score which played up its links with European music. A terrific performance and a fabulous slant on a familiar work.

1 comment:

  1. There is some thing thrilling in blowing the dust of a long lost piece (that nobody new existed) and playing it in front of a live audience for the first time.
    This kind of concert would necessarily have a very special energy to it.

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