Sunday, August 22, 2021, Royal Albert Hall, London

Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from 7.30 p.m., and shown on BBC Four from 8 o’clock

The evening started with the ‘sounding together’ of Symphonies of Wind Instruments (original 1920 version, in memoriam Debussy) given an incisively etched and vividly contrasted reading – chant, disruption, spectres, poignancy – LSO woodwinds and brass in fine fettle. Adding strings and timpani, there followed Symphony in C (1938-40, for Chicago) in an athletic and expressive outing, rhythmically adroit (the first movement is a huge challenge in this regard – as this orchestra found out with Gergiev some years ago) and if there was the occasional fallibility, the right intentions were clearly in place. As a whole, Symphony in C doesn’t hang together that well – underlined here by intrusive between-movement clapping – and it could be said that Sir Simon harried some measures; at the same time the score was alive with incident, both looking back to Symphonies and presaging the next work. There was no interval (a bonus), the Prom ending with Symphony in Three Movements (1942-45, for New York) – piano, harp and bass drum now needed – a total masterpiece in its cohesion and line to a tumultuous goal – music with filmic inspiration and insertions. The opening should explode (just like the LSO did fifty-odd years ago recording it with Colin Davis). It more or less did – this is wartime music – Rattle maintaining impetus throughout the first movement. The second was suitably airy and (in Bernadette’s music) ethereal, whereas the Finale goose-stepped with menace, via a trio for trombone, harp and piano, to a well-timed knockout conclusion.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/proms

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_Bernadette_(film)