Sunday, September 5, 2021, Royal Albert Hall, London

Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from 7.30 p.m.

Domingo Hindoyan (newly succeeding Vasily Petrenko as the Liverpool Philharmonic’s chief conductor) opened Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with much promise – balancing strength and vulnerability (this is one of the composer’s ‘homesick’ American works) – and there was a fine horn solo, all paving the way for Sheku Kanneh-Mason. He made a gutsy and confident first entry and tenderised the second subject nicely, yet, for all that his quiet playing was admirable, he was less successful when exploring the instrument’s middle and top registers, with consequences for intonation, tone and communication; regarding the latter quality, some personable Liverpool woodwinds were more diverting, as they were to begin the slow movement, in which Kanneh-Mason was generously expressive even if timbre suffered somewhat when the cello’s strings were over-pressured. From the soloist, the Finale was a little strained in athletic passages, RLPO more than sharing the limelight if also accommodating, Kanneh-Mason coming more into his own in the wistful writing … and his pizzicatos were especially effective for his encore, Burt Bacharach’s ‘I say a little prayer’.

Opening the Prom was the premiere of Grace-Evangeline Mason’s The Imagined Forest (BBC/RLPO co-commission), a likeable twelve-minute, full-orchestra piece that employs magical colours, touching lyricism and impressionistic brushstrokes before becoming filmic and animated (sweeping strings, trombone glissandos, punchy percussion) and then returning to the opening dreamlike state. The concert’s second half started with Strauss’s Don Juan, launched attacca out of applause, a little lacking for impetus if not detail, romantic bloom (eloquent oboe solo) or sensitivity. Finally, Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphoses of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber, a masterpiece of musical transformation, a brilliant incident-packed performance, so vibrant and illuminating, the highlight of the evening, Liverpool Phil in top gear, swaggering in the final movement.