With Daniel Barenboim conducting, the concert began with Jörg Widmann's overture Con brio, inspired by recognisable fragments from Beethoven's seventh and eighth symphonies. A curious rather than engaging work, but one in which the virtuosity of the orchestra, and the timpani player in particular, were pushed to their limits.
The highlight for most people was Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1, and I won't deny it was deservedly so. Martha Argerich was carefully in control of yet another virtuosic piece; the piano was clear although the inverse-square law meant it was quieter than I'm used to, but that does highlight how much I take for granted the sound at the front of the Arena. One offbeat aspect of being at the front is that you can sometimes tell, by the music on the stands, whether an orchestral encore is coming up. This isn't the case for soloists, of course; but when the stage hands roll up producing a second piano stool, clearly the game is afoot. Argerich and Barenboim returned to give a piano duet encore: Schubert's Rondo in A, D951.
The second half was all Wagner; so not only were the orchestra demonstrating that Arabs and Israelis can get along together, the Israeli musicians at least were breaking another taboo (for obvious reasons, Wagner was for a long time not performed in Israel, and I understand it's unusual and perhaps frowned upon even now.). But you wouldn't have known that from their professional performance. Starting with apparently the work most often performed in Proms history, the overture to Tannhäuser, they moved on to excerpts from Götterdämmerung - Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey and Funeral March - and finished the advertised programme with another overture, this time Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
Barenboim's time-keeping was well off, and the concert had already significantly over-run, but he returned to the stage, microphone in hand. Fortunately he was brief. "We will skip the rest of Act One; we will skip Act Two; here is the prelude to Act Three" - and so, an orchestral encore. Then another encore - the prelude to Act Three of Lohengrin. Although I would have liked the Ride of the Valkyries, it was probably for the best that the orchestra then quickly took their leave. GWR managed to take 50 minutes to get from Paddington to Reading, and there were night-time roadworks on the IDR, so it was a late night indeed by the time I got home.