For all the excitement I lapped up hanging around the promming queue outside the Royal Albert Hall yesterday afternoon in the sunshine, the first half of the first Prom didn’t quite sate me in the way I had expected. On radio Paul Watkins performance seemed tidy and mellow. The same performance on TV revealed to what extent he was doing battle with the heat inside the hall. At various points it was clear that his sweaty fingers were causing him some difficulty with the finger board.
Hearing Beethoven’s ninth symphony reminded me that the composer does tend to re-emphasise his musical point a little too much for my liking. Not only that, I was also reminded about how things seem to chop and change quite a lot in the last movement. First one musical idea, then another, then another, shifting gears in unexpected ways.
Having said that, mix we heard on TV (Simon asks that I emphasise the screen is 37 inches not 32 inches as I illustrated in the most recent video) was extremely dry making the overall performance incredibly tight and dramatic. The last movement in particular was a real joy featuring a spirited performance from Rene Pape (bass) and a jaw-dropping contribution from the Philharmonia Chorus and BBC Symphony Chorus, all members of which stood singing without their music in their hands.
And in case you’re thinking, “Pah! You didn’t go to the Hall and listen to it?” bear in mind that us lot at home got to see a clip of the Venezualan orchestra appearing later on in the Proms season so I am, in fact, feeling quite smug I saw it at home. I’m sure I’ll get along next week though.
Most important of all, however, is that what I had thought was an interesting “angle” on all of last night’s music (included in the Preview to #1), did turn out to be absolute bollocks. 🙂 *
* Many thanks to David England.