As usual, I’ve found myself fending off a steady stream of contrary opinions regarding last night’s Prom concert from Proms fans who (to the best of my knowledge) didn’t actually attend/watch/listen to last night’s concert.
I have to be completely honest. We didn’t watch very much of it ourselves nor did we watch it live. So, that combined with my usual defence about why I hardly ever go to the Royal Albert Hall because it’s better at home, I do realised that I’m probably not in the best position to offer any thorough review of last night’s gig.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra promised Britten, Martinu and Prokofiev. Either I truly am some kind of slack fan but it wasn’t long into Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes that I rapidly began to lose interest.
Something was happening in the hall, it seemed to me. Few of the players seemed to be able to hear or concentrating on what they could hear and, as a result, there were moments when it was obvious the band wasn’t playing as one. The brass left me clawing at the sofa cushions as though I was looking for an escape and had failed to remember I was watching a recording and could therefore switch it off.
The most telling moment however was the sight of the entire front row of Prommers looking up to their left. Something had grabbed their attention mid-performance and it wasn’t the orchestra or the conductor on stage. Voices could be heard – one in particular – although the words were indistinct.
At the end of one movement in the Britten there was a agonising pause as the conductor, his baton still hovering over the orchestra glared in the same direction as the Prommers. The voice continued, so too the orchestra almost defiantly.
No mention of it can be found anywhere today and the only mention of it I noticed last night was when the Proms’ broadcast pundits (pictured) crow-barred it into the introduction of their own account of the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s opening effort.