PROM 6: THE RITE OF SPRING | BBC Proms 2019

Stravinksy’s The Rite Of Spring is a highlight of the Proms, year after year. The auditorium was packed to the rafters, and we gave it a deafening ovation. Last year, it was the BBC Symphony Orchestra; this year it was the Orchestra of the Royal Academy of Music and The Juilliard School, conducted by Edward Gardner. That’s right, a student orchestra, with some players still teenagers.

For such a young orchestra to tackle Stravinsky’s behemoth is unbelievably impressive, and for the most part, it was a faithful, rousing rendition. However, the piece had a weak start, and was dogged by underconfident moments throughout.

Britten’s Violin Concerto fared much better. Guest soloist James Ehnes underused vibrato to excellent effect, playing against the “gypsy”-like moments with scholarly finesse, rather than impassioned attacks. His unaccompanied encore — the third movement from Bach’s second violin sonata — further showed off his effortless mastery of the instrument.

The evening’s programme opened with the UK premiere of Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s effects-heavy Metacosmos, in which a dark and swirling dissonance gives way to moments of grand, tonal tragedy. This piece also sounded a little under-rehearsed, as did the encore of Oliver Knussen’s Flourish With Fireworks. Such an amazing achievement for such a young ensemble, but perhaps within the context of the Proms, biting off a little more than they can chew.

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

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