Review: RSNO: Prom 63, London

Peter Oundjian
The Scotsman

Neither Nicholas Kenyon nor Roger Wright managed to avoid this trap, so a big hand for Edward Blakeman, who has been masterminding the interregnum between the departing Wright and the incoming David Pickard, for the most interesting Proms season in years, including an unprecedentedly large quota of forgotten gems.

The RSNO rendered its quintessentially Messiaen-style chords and textures with radiant exuberance, letting the hushed ecstasy of the main theme brim with religious fervour. There were echoes of Bartok, Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky – all Messiaen’s heroes – but this youthful work carries his own unmistakable stamp in every bar.
With sensitive support from conductor Peter Oundjian and the RSNO, every note in his performance was fastidiously placed, every phrase beautifully sculpted: it was like listening to a speech by a master-orator who never needs to raise his voice. Yet when it fell to him to lead the orchestra into new realms in the first-movement development, and in the sequence of small quasi-cadenzas which stud the finale, he had all the authority required. His encore – Shostakovich’s Waltz-Scherzo – was a comic tour de force, played pianissimo throughout.

With Bruckner’s Symphony No 7 in E major, the RSNO showed what they are made of, and in what excellent form they currently are. Bruckner’s massive work – which signalled his own final acceptance by a sceptical German public – here emerged in all its glory.
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