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London Proms - 2011

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  1. 1. 24 ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT T U E S D A Y, O C T O B E R 4 , 2 0 1 1 T H E J E R U S A L E M P O S T CONCERT REVIEW: THE LONDON PROMS COMIC RELIEF: ‘To me, there is nothing like • By IRVINGit... nothing quite like (Irving spitz) comic who SPITZ a stand-up a piece entitled the Fantastic Appearances of is there because he really wants to be there. a Theme of Hector Berlioz by the relatively And that’s what I am about. It’s really all I unknown German composer, Walter P rom is an abbreviation for prome- (John Gress/Reuters) do,’ says Seinfeld. nade. During this annual festival, Braunfels. His music was popular in Ger- 900 Prommers stand in the central many and even internationally in the 1920 arena of the vast Royal Albert Hall, with a and early 1930’s. This late romantic work further 500 in the gallery. The rest of the highlighted the proficiency of the brass audience is accommodated in seats in and woodwind section of this technically the tiered arches. impressive orchestra. The current two-month festival com- A performance of Beethoven’s fourth prised 74 concerts. I heard Sir Colin Davis piano concerto with the French pianist conducting The London Symphony Hélène Grimaud followed. No one could Orchestra in a glorious performance of argue with Ms Grimaud’s formidable piano Beethoven’s masterpiece, the Missa Solem- technique as shown by her exemplary ren- nis with the London Philharmonic Choir dering of the first movement cadenza. She and the London Symphony Chorus. From hear him above the orchestra. has a wonderful, light touch and her fortis- a seated position, the octogenarian Colin Perhaps the most poignant moment of simo passages were also outstanding. Davis was in absolute control. He conduct- the performance was the violin obbligato The concert concluded with ed the work at a slow, measured pace and played by orchestra leader Gordan Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony. There was despite his minimum of gestures, the Nikolitch accompanying the soloists in some beautiful playing, notably the orchestra responded to his every motion. the Benedictus. The huge choral forces mournful clarinets at the beginning of the Without question, the most successful added much drama to this overwhelming first movement and the horn in the sec- of the vocal soloists was Sarah Connolly and inspiring performance. Catherine ond. However there was too much accen- (mezzo-soprano). Her contributions to Edward’s playing of the Albert Hall organ tuation of the brass and I missed the grand the Sanctus and Agnes Dei were particu- was noteworthy. romantic sweep and emotional intensity larly noteworthy. Helena Juntunen The other concert featured the Pittsburgh associated with this work. The performance (soprano) and Matthew Rose (bass) were Symphony Orchestra under its Austrian was somewhat uninspiring and one could both effective although the former was conductor Manfred Honeck. Although not not escape the conclusion that Honeck was too dramatic and the latter took some a member of the so called “Big Five,” their most interested in showing off the prowess time to settle in. Paul Groves is a light playing was very proficient. As a short cur- of the strings, brass and woodwinds and lyrical tenor and it was often difficult to tain-raiser, they played three extracts from percussion of this fine ensemble.