The Royal Scottish National Orchestra truly knocked it out of the park for this all-American Prom. African-American trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is one of very few equally recognised for both jazz and classical: his Violin Concerto in D (2015), written for star performer Nicola Benedetti, bursts with jazzy glory, and even ends with a New Orleans “Hootenanny”.
Scottish-born Benedetti is truly a master of her instrument. Where another violinist might emphasise the concerto’s difficult sections and underplay the easy sections, Benedetti pretty much does the complete opposite. Her playing transcends the technical, and she is one of those rare performers who, even in a showpiece written specifically for her, puts the music first and herself second.
The second main piece of the programme was the beloved orchestral suite of Leonard Bernstein’s ”Symphonic Dances” from the American musical West Side Story (1957). Conductor Thomas Søndergård made the most of every second with this repertoire classic, including an electrifying “Mambo”.
We had some non-American material, too. Opening the concert was a short orchestral suite from Thomas Adès’ first opera, Powder Her Face (1995). Orchestrated with drunken woodwind glissandi and comic percussion, this proved an excellent orchestral showcase opener. Opening the second half was an emotionally-charged suite of “Sea Interludes” from the opera Peter Grimes (1945) by Benjamin Britten. The encore, Christopher Gough’s brief arrangement of a Scottish folk piece called The Eightsome Reels 2.0, near and dear to the hearts of the Scottish orchestra, also brought the house down.
Tickets for all 72 Proms are available from just £7.12 on the BBC Proms 2022 website.