Friday, 4 September 2009


25/8/09 and 1/9/09, Royal Albert Hall (Proms)

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Roger Norrington with Joyce DiDonato singing; in the second half they played Mendelssohn's Symphony No 3, the Scottish.

I failed to make proper notes at the time but I did scribble in the programme. We had Purcell's suite from the incidental music to Abdelazer, and then La DiDonato came on in a green, full-skirted strapless dress to sing Ombra mai fu from Xerxes and Ah mio cor from Alcina. The former was funereal, though she sounded gorgeous. The second was much better, faster, and there was something she did at the segue into the middle section unaccompanied when her voice soared and fell and changed key and all sorts, and we all held our breath.

And then we had Handel's Water Music, which is too familiar and I fell asleep.

And that was followed by our Joyce back for Haydn's Scena di Berenice which is a splendidly dramatic concert aria. She was great: lyrical, highly dramatic, thrillingly low at times.

The Mendelssohn contrasts light and dark in the first movement (the Scots weather?), first brassy, then flute and clarinet. There are lovely melodies in the third movement. And a bouncy finish.

G didn't like Norrington: he thinks he's a show-off, turning to the audience at the end and bouncing like a schoolboy.

Royal Concertgebouw with Mariss Janson doing Haydn's Symphony No 100, the Military, and Shostakovich's Symphony No 10.

I failed to make a note at the time and remember nothing of it.

The reviews below help bring some of it back, notably the four percussionists marching on at the end of the Haydn.

Late-night Prom with the Michael Nyman Band.

Initially riveting: loud, repetitive, rhythmic with a spectacular sense of impetus and drive. Think Chasing Sheep is Best Left to Shepherds, the theme tune from The Draughtsman's Contract.

The trouble is, they all sound like that: same minimalist techniques, same (amplified) instrumentation.

Alas it became boring in the end

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