PROM 17: BAVARIAN RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA | BBC Proms 2019

Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin took to the podium at short notice, replacing Mariss Jansons, leading the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra for the second of their two-night stint at the BBC Proms. At even shorter notice, violinist Lisa Batiashvili was replaced by Gil Shaham. Despite these last minute changes, the Royal Albert Hall was still absolutely packed to the rafters, and ended the long programme with a stomping ovation.

Sometimes conductors like to stand back and “let the music do the talking”. Not here. Nézet-Séguin gave us a hugely dynamic rendition of Sibelius’ first symphony. Where an audience might risk getting lost in Sibelius’ expansive textures and perpetual rolling timpani, Nézet-Séguin brought in drive, always letting us know that something exciting was just around the corner.

Starting the second half, Shaham gave us a bit of a characterless runthrough of Prokofiev’s second violin concerto. Perhaps the intimate piece got a bit swamped in the vastness of the venue. Then again, Shaham’s encore of Bach’s Gavotte en Rondeau from Partita No. 3 for solo violin seemed to have more art than the whole of the Prokofiev together.

Closing the second half was the well-loved 25-minute suite of music from Richard Strauss’ opera Der Rosenkavalier, featuring that infamous waltz. Despite no singers, the orchestra gave us everything we needed and more, featuring a gorgeous violin solo by leader Radoslaw Szulc. Following this bombast, we were obliged with a soft and subtle rendition of Sibelius’ Valse triste as an encore, neatly bookending the evening’s programme. In spite of some last minute changes, a rousing success.

1,350 £6 Promming tickets are available on the day for every performance.

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