The Minnesota Orchestra are playing in two Proms back to back this weekend, with the first concert being on Friday evening. I presume this is because they have flown across the Atlantic especially, so it is more worthwhile if they do two nights in a row.
Following on from his violin concerto yesterday, the opening work was Barber’s Music for a Scene from Shelley. This was simply music Barber was inspired to write by a passage in Shelley’s poem-come-play. However, the work, from early on in Barber’s career, could easily have been at home in a film soundtrack, were a film ever to be made of Shelley’s work.
Next came Shostakovich’s Cello concerto. This is hardly the most optimistic-sounding work – in fact, it makes Elgar’s famous swan song seem like a pleasant walk in the park. Yet it is a good work for showing off the skill of the soloist, having been originally written for Rostropovich. Soloist Alisa Weilerstein put in a good performance, particularly during the long and demanding solo cadenza.
After the interval came the marathon fourth symphony by Bruckner, clocking at over an hour. This was a more romantic, melodic piece to contrast with the Shostakovich. There was an interesting interruption after the third movement when the conductor turned around and invited the audience to talk among themselves while they changed a string. It was the principal cellist who required a new string, and he was given an applause before the orchestra continued with the final movement.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Minnesota Orchestra make of Beethoven’s 9th tomorrow.
Barber Music for a Scene from Shelley
Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in E flat major
Bruckner Symphony No. 4 in E flat major, ‘Romantic’
Alisa Weilerstein cello
Osmo Vänskä conductor