qatsi (qatsi) wrote,


The Proms have been somewhat lopsided this year in their programming, with a lot of the visiting orchestras and "big names" in the last two or three weeks. I'm sure it's no coincidence that this ties in with their coverage on BBC4, though that turns out to be a bit more selective than you might have imagined. So, two Proms in a row again, and two sell-outs again. With my hair hinting at grey in one or two places, I find it immensely satisfying to my ego to be addressed as "young man", even if it is by some of the undeniably elder Promenaders. According to this 1972 Guardian article, you are eccentric if you're promming and over 30, so I'm well qualified on that score.

The first half, which was probably the crowd puller, was Joshua Bell playing Bruch's Violin Concerto No 1, and it was pleasant enough. Obviously feeling that we had not had enough Corigliano last year, or perhaps looking to boost his CD sales, Bell gave an encore of a further passage from The Red Violin.

It was the second half that attracted me to this concert, Shostakovich's Symphony No 10. Arguably the greatest of his symphonies, this is the work that he released following Stalin's death, and it's considered to represent his struggles with the not-so-Dear Leader. Daniele Gatti conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with care, taking the second movement in particular at a truly breakneck pace. I've heard one person argue that the ending is not triumphant, and the programme notes hinted the same, but I simply can't agree. It may not be a conventional triumph, but in Shostakovich's sardonic style, in its final bars, the "D-S-C-H" theme really trounces the "Stalin" theme, no question. It was a fair performance, but after Wednesday's Prom it was almost inevitable that this would be a climb-down, and flicking through my folder of concert programmes I have found the best performance of this work I've ever attended: it was in 1989 at Newcastle City Hall, with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra under Gennadi Rozhdestvensky - names to conjure with indeed.
Tags: music
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