BBC Proms Season 2016 ~ PROM 4 – 4.5*’s

I’m going to Switzerland on Thursday, so Prom 4 was the last prom for me for a couple of weeks before I return on the 2nd of August after performing with the National Youth Wind Orchestra in 4 locations, staying in Teufen. I can’t wait, and it will be even better as I can take the adrenaline rush that last night’s prom gave me!

Valery Gergiev and his Munich Philharmonic Orchestra brought 2 classic orchestral works (Ravel’s Boléro and Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier Suite), a 1983 symphony by Russian composer, Galina Ustvolskaya, and the world-renowned Rachmaninov 3rd Piano Concerto in D minor.

The evening started with Ravel’s 16 minute ballet, which featured some fabulous piccolo trumpet playing, and an impressive trombone solo. Amazing was the patience of the cymbal and gong players who waited 14 minutes to smash the living daylights out of their instruments. I was originally very appealed to this prom because of Valery Gergiev, as a very famous interpreter, I was a little surprised to see him live for the first time. There was a lot of waving around, throwing beats down willy-nilly and defiantly not in the right place.. it makes me wonder how much help he is to an orchestra. I say this because the Munich Phil were not fazed at all and produced the most incredible togetherness considering this madman waving his hands about.

PROM 4 (1)

The piano concerto introduced Behzod Abduraimov, the winner of the 2009 London International Piano Competition, who from the moment he walked on to the moment he walked off after his encore was completely involved in his performance. It was such an inspiration to watch a young musician, only 26, take in every moment of performing at this insane venue. Sometimes the balance between the piano and orchestra was a little iffy and obviously neither could follow the conductor as Gergiev hadn’t given up his antics yet, but I’m not sure this was Behzod’s fault.

However, it was in the cadenzas that we heard Abduraimov’s superb technical skill and passion as he stretched the Model D Steinway to it’s absolute limit-smashing down some immense chords and showing every single emotion possible for a human on his face within the 42 minute concerto. It was a privilege to listen to him play, and the leader of the orchestra clearly didn’t think he was too bad either; I think he was a bit jealous of the young lad’s talent.

PROM 4 (2)

His encore was one I had heard before, unlike the full piano concerto, which blew me away completely as this star played such challenging technical and passionate melodies. Abduraimov was huffing and puffing for most of the time he was on the stage, but he certainly blew the house down as the whole audience erupted the second his hands were lifted off the keys. Bravo!

After the interval we heard the powerful Ustvolskaya Symphony which confused me a little because we weren’t introduced to the narrator who I thought was the composer, but on a quick look at Wikipedia I realized this wasn’t true-Galina is a woman… oh, my bad. I would love to know how much the narrator (who was supposedly speaking spiritually in Russian) got paid for shouting shpashinash a few times and looking angry because I’d love to volunteer next time it’s performed!

PROM 4 (3).JPG

Shpashinash!!!

The highlight of the evening, and the reason (along with the piano concerto), why this evening scored so high was the magnificent Der Rosenkavalier Suite!! I haven’t actually got many notes taken for this piece, because I may have been so involved that I forgot I was supposed to be criticizing the players..!

All I can say was that it was amazing. Pretty much everything was amazing, the orchestra was on top form, the bass trombone had some mega bass notes and even Gergiev managed some up and down movements in the right time (I know, right?!). I didn’t completely agree with all of his tempi, in particular I would have moved it on in places, but to be honest the work is just so good it doesn’t really matter what tempo you take it, it’s gonna sound amazing!

The two encores showcased the orchestra amazingly and I think I enjoyed it more than some of the concert programme! The Berlioz Hungarian March from Damnation of Faust was a perfect choice to keep the audience clapping and it certainly worked. The showcase of the trombones was immense. Then, Bach Air on a G String was absolutely faultless. It was one of my all time favourite proms moments because it was just so emotional and you could hear a pin drop as everyone was engaged with the very pretty playing.

 

Overall, it was an insane evening: the programme, the orchestra, and the pianist. Everyone worked perfectly together, the product was a concert I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

Shpashinash!

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