Last night I went to two proms, and both were of very high standards. The highlights of both proms were the soloists, all who showed the drive and passion that we all share as musicians.
Prom 27, however, started with the first of Helen Grime’s Two Eardley Pictures, which didn’t really go anywhere for it’s eight minute duration. Although I wasn’t against it as a piece, and actually it grew on me as I thought more about it, I couldn’t help but relate it to a poor film score. The conductor, Thomas Dausgaard was on top form from the very beginning showing all manner of movements and facial expressions-mainly through his long hair! All I could imagine was a very dark scene out of Prometheus to be honest… that probably explains why the conductor left a good few seconds of silence after the piece.
However, as soon as Violinist Pekka Kuusisto walked on stage we all knew we were about to witness something quite different. His face was in complete awe of the RAH, as if he was a child walking out into the vast space for the first time. He looked out into the entire hall with gasps, smiles and waves. Any soloist with confidence changes the game completely, but he didn’t just look the part, oh no he defiantly played like he meant it! His facial expressions throughout the piece was fantastic, the highlight of the piece, as he glaces over to the conductor, winks at the leader and in one part literally stood back to let the orchestra play-what a showman! Where we really heard Kuusisto was in the cadenzas; with chromatic scales and perfectly placed high notes he was unbeatable. His passion did, however, result in the loss of about 8 bow hairs!
The Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major was undoubtedly an insane piece full of luscious melodies and fantastic heart-rendering harmonies, but for me it didn’t quite get me going like the Stravinsky in the second half.
Stravinsky’s Petrushka is one of my all time favourites-it stretches the imagination, constantly keeps the listener engaged and there are changes in literally every musical factor possible. At a time when the greats like Elgar and Mahler are composing massive works, it was Stravinsky who turned away from this pride and heroism and instead to de-humanizing forces like puppets, of which Petrushka is one. The constantly changing features of this ballet is probably the reason why I love it so much, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra didn’t disappoint.
It was full to the brim with energy, and every last second was intense. The brass parts were EPIC, with the trombone and tubas shining through. At the beginning the cello’s intonation was a bit shaky, but the ridiculous trumpet solos were performed with utter finesse and not to be outdone the violin solos were faultless. Our conductor seemed to understand the music perfectly and looked almost as passionate as me standing in the Arena.
Overall one of the best concerts of the proms season so far, the musicians, the programme and the atmosphere created by the insane Stravinsky made this a night well wroth of 4.5*’s.