Shostakovich’s final Symphony No. 15 (1971) dominated this lengthy prom, with the BBC Philharmonic conducted by John Storgårds. Written four years before Shostakovich’s death, the work is known for being impossible to decode: what do all the quotes from other musical works mean? We’ll never know.

The schizophrenic (bipolar?) qualities of the score were handled magnificently, with every parodic twist eked out. The whole ensemble is able to shift effortlessly as a unit between cartoonish and deathly, making even the long, exhausted sections just as gripping as whipcrack nationalistic sections. It’s almost a Concerto for Orchestra in form, with particularly committed solos from violinist Thomas Bangbala and cellist Peter Dixon.

For the first half, we had Kavehi Aho’s Concerto for Theremin and Chamber Orchestra (2011), featuring spellcaster Carolina Eyck, who also premiered it (along with Storgårds). Based on the “Eight Seasons” of shamanistic Lapland, it might seem an odd choice to feature an instrument famously associated with sci-fi. But Eyck captured the natural with her unnatural instrument, from tweeting birds to sonic rumbling, in a controlled, self-effacing performance that shied away from B-movie vibrato.

One might think it ill-advised to add yet another piece to the evening, but Kaija Saariaho’s Vista (2019) was a masterstroke of programming; the perfect transition from magic to tragic. Scored for enormous forces, including fortified strings and triple woodwind, Saariaho’s threatening sonic beds give way to clarion brass and oscillating, microtonal clashes. Hardcore standing for the prommers, but worth every minute.

Tickets for all 72 Proms are available from just £7.12 on the BBC Proms 2022 website.

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