qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

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Playing All The Right Notes

I expected Prom 51 to be popular - a popular conductor, a popular orchestra, a popular programme - so I was pleased to get a good position in the second row of the Arena.

The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop began, though, with a UK premiere. Unless the composer is a well-known name, you're never quite sure what to expect. In fact Marlos Nobre's Kabbalah was an enjoyable piece, energetic and rhythmic, with repetitive descending scales and clockwork sounds, perhaps bringing to mind Bernstein and John Adams.

Next, pianist Gabriela Montero joined the orchestra for Grieg's Piano Concerto. I thought I'd heard this at the Proms quite recently; it turns out to have been rather longer ago, during another crazy summer, the few days of riots in 2011. An overheard conversation reassured me that I'm not the only one who can't keep Morecambe and Wise, and Andrew Preview, out of their head; Montero took a gentle pace, but an effective one. There might have been a couple of wobbles in the final movement but overall it was very successful. For an encore, she improvised on Land of Hope and Glory, taking us first into baroque canon, then into a more jazzy and ragtime style.

The second half began with the prelude from Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4. I don't know all these pieces, and they seem a bit of a mixed bag to me; certainly Villa-Lobos had a high opinion of himself to even contemplate naming pieces in this way. But it was a lovely, calm introduction, and reminds me to investigate his music more. Alsop moved straight on to Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances, another work I've seen before (also in 2011) at the Proms.

Timing was tight with a late-night Prom to follow, but it was fairly obvious there would be an encore: it turned out to be more Villa-Lobos, this time Valsa da Or. And then, a second encore: something I felt I've heard before but could not name at the time, perhaps a bit of a calling card for the region, Edu Lobo's Pé de Vento from Suíte Popular Brasileira. Predictably, it brought the house down, and fortunately Kensington Gardens was still open for the walk back to Paddington when I left the hall.
Tags: music
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