Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Barbican Hall, London

The first sounds heard were from Boris Giltburg’s piano as he created a crescendo into the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s rich romantic moulding and Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto. Although there were good things from both parties, it sometimes seemed that they had different ideas as to how this piece goes, and whether some imbalances – piano dominant at times – were due to Giltburg being too loud, or Sakari Oramo keeping the BBCSO at a respectful distance, or the sound-engineering favoured the pianist, I wouldn’t like to say, but I can be more unequivocal about the performance: that, temperamentally, things didn’t always gel, certainly in the first movement, although the slow one was distinguished by characterful woodwinds, and the Finale revealed the greater import … even so, Giltburg’s encore – the G-sharp minor Prelude from Rachmaninov’s Opus 32 had the volatility and nerve-ends that rarely surfaced in the Concerto.

Something new following the interval, the premiere of Sighs of Stars (BBC co-commission) by Sophie Lacaze (born 1963), a journey through the Milky Way – atmospheric and subtle, a collection of used-elsewhere timbres that suggested stellar strangeness if not musical substance, not really sustaining twenty-one minutes.

Music from the first two Acts of Prokofiev’s ballet-score for Cinderella, concluding with the clangour of Midnight, ended the evening – top-class playing inspired by a conductor keen to remind that this work isn’t a poor relation to Romeo and Juliet. It was thirty minutes well spent.

BBC Proms 2022 – Prom 39: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Sakari Oramo. Mark-Anthony Turnage. Time Flies. Elgar’s First Symphony. Constantin Hartwig/Vaughan Williams’s Tuba Concerto. Live BBC Radio 3 broadcast.

Column Post #4,700. BBC Proms 2022 – Prom 8: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Dalia Stasevska conducts Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hildur Guðnadóttir, and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet; Denis Kozhukhin plays Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto.