qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Magnetic North

Thursday's weather may have deterred or delayed some people; the unfamiliar works in the first half may also have put some off. In any case, I was pleased to discover a very short queue and I was on the rail again for Prom 38. The pre-Prom talk was well attended, in part perhaps due to the weather but I think most had a genuine interest in the composer portrait of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, featuring alumni of the London Sinfonietta Academy playing Runes from a Holy Island, Six Sorano Variants and Antechrist. The Sorano variants, for solo viola, probably worked best for me.

The concert proper, with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by John Storgårds, opened with Sibelius' stirring tome poem Finlandia, the majestic piece well suited to the Albert Hall. The next work in the concert was Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' Symphony No. 5. I was probably not as enthusiastic as I had been for his music in Tuesday's concert, though the piece wasn't bad; the regular wailing child somewhere in the distance didn't help. The remainder of this long first half was Bridge's Oration for cello and orchestra. The programme notes compared (and contrasted) this piece to Elgar's famous concerto: certainly it has a very different character, modernist, certainly anguished and perhaps even brutalist in places. I enjoyed it. Leonard Elschenbroich played with passion, and gave an encore of another unfamiliar composer, a movement from a Hindemith cello sonata.

In the second half we had the single work Sibelius' Symphony No. 2. I think I've heard this at the Proms before, sometime in the 1990s up in the gallery. It was worth hearing again, in the arena. Although Sibelius composed much of the work in Italy, the images it conjures are still of the North: beautiful, rugged, and with occasional sunshine.
Tags: music
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