BBC Proms 2017/30: Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast / National Youth Choirs of Great Britain / Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Kirill Karabits

I risk going against the grain with this post.

The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain’s Prom featuring William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast was not one I especially enjoyed.

In fact, I’d go a little further. I don’t hear what everyone else appears to have heard when I listen to it back via iPlayer Radio. And I’ve listened to it three times today. I even roped in my other half to act as a ‘control’ listener.

Belshazzar’s Feast suffered from quite remarkable intonation in the sopranos.

In some places the voices were unsupported, meaning that the top notes often came in a little flat. Once or twice is forgivable, but when it happens consistently, I begin to wonder whether the programme was a little ambitious.

Additionally, some sections of the orchestral accompaniment got off to a rocky start. There were also moments when it felt like the orchestra itself was struggling to keep together.

I don’t deny anyone the excitement of their experience performing it at the Royal Albert Hall. It’s my hunch that Belshazzar’s was under-rehearsed. Maybe that was down to the inclusion of a lesser-known work by Prokofiev which, presumably, made demands on rehearsal time.

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