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You wouldn't normally expect to be on the rail if you arrived for the… - The Titfield Thunderbolt
Heisenberg might have stayed here
qatsi
qatsi
You wouldn't normally expect to be on the rail if you arrived for the Arena queue only shortly before 4pm, and especially not if it was for a concert with "celebrity" artists. But the weather yesterday (or at least, the Met Office's blanket "severe weather" warning) had clearly deterred people, and so I was comfortably in the front row for the LSO and Valery Gergiev, who really ought to be sponsored by a firm that produces male grooming products.

The concert began in energetic style with Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1 ("Classical"). The performance was effective and I certainly picked out details that were new to me, but I wonder whether a smaller orchestra might have been better.

Either side of the interval were works by Henri Dutilleux. I didn't know what to expect but didn't really have high expectations. I don't think they are going onto my desert island list, but I've certainly heard worse. The more length piece was L'arbre des songes, in which Leonidas Kavakos took the solo violin part. Gergiev conducted this piece throughout with a cocktail stick. It was interesting to hear and see a prominent cimbalom part in the piece. Amusingly, the third interlude section featured the sound of an orchestra tuning up, an aural counterpart to Marcel Duchamp's Fountain. After the interval, the concert resumed with Slava's Fanfare, a birthday tribute piece from 1997 for Mstislav Rostropovich.

The final work in the concert was again Prokofiev, this time the Symphony No. 5. The orchestra worked hard and obtained commensurate results. In the second movement in particular, the slow-down prior to the recapitulation was dramatic and effective. For a work such as this, the larger orchestra was appropriate; the dynamic contrasts were striking right up to the final moments, as the leader played the violin solo prior to the final tutti.

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