Review: BBC Proms - Rachmaninov’s 2nd Symphony
I’ve got one thing to sayâ€¦ Proms! It’s been four years since going to the Proms in London and it is a joy to be here once more. For a Friday night, two concerts were crammed into a few hours and considering the heat we were in the hall, it was no small feat.
First up was Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome, with conductor Sir Antonio Pappano. He has been a big figure at the Royal Opera House in recent years. Having seen him on the TV numerous times, I finally got to see him live with the orchestra he loves so dear.
The hall was packed for a programme of Mozart, Schumann and Rachmaninov. This was decent fair and was played in a way true musicians should. Mozart’s 35th Symphony (known as the Haffner) prevented us from melting in our seats from the intense warmth of the hall. Its charm and loving nature was rare for me, since I hadn’t heard this work before.
Our player for the Piano Concerto by Schumann was Jan Lisiecki. At the age of 18, this is his Proms debut and it went down a storm. Although I couldn’t see Lisiecki playing from where I was sitting, I got a real sense of a budding musical great here. He is bound to go on to great things. The audience went berserk for him. It was quite a touching moment. The concerto itself is arguably Schumann’s masterwork. It sounds like it, since the piano has never sounded so good.
Rachmaninov gave us the curtain with his Second Symphony. This is a grand work, seeped in romance and great sweeping music. Its highlight is the third movement, Adagio is one of the sweetest ever written, with a fabulous solo for clarinet to boot. You can feel drawn into his music, since it remained so Russian and loved up for the 20th century. He stood alone and that is why people still love his music. He’s tender, warm and always robust. Check out the Adagio. It’s a pearl of a piece.
The audience went even madder at the end of the concert, but the evening was not over just yet. In the late night prom, it was a concert that was shorter than an hour and all the music was by Stockhausen. The review for this will follow accordingly.
But for now the first prom of the evening can be listened to on the BBC iPlayer up until tomorrow (Friday 26th July 2013) - here's Part One, Part Two and Proms Plus (Rachmaninov's Second Symphony Talk) - and it was also recorded for television and will be broadcast this evening at 7.30pm (Thursday 25th July 2013).
The Proms continue till Saturday 7th September 2013 at the Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall and they're all live on BBC Radio 3 with some televised on BBC Two and BBC Four.