Amazing Ashkenazy

Today’s programme was a little more colourful, with the Sydney Symphony under the baton of the always amazing Vladimir Ashkenazy.

The concerto was Ravel’s piano concerto, played by Hélène Grimaud. I know that Grimaud’s performances at the Royal Festival Hall usually sell ouy fairly quickly, and so unlike yesterday, today’s Prom was quite full. Ravel actually thought up the opening theme of the concerto while on a train journey from Oxford to London, which is interesting as I tavel most of that route every day on my way to the Proms. Unfortunately, I was quite distracted by the loud sound of Grimaud’s breathing, which is apparently a trait of hers while she is playing, probably made worse by the fact I was three rows from the stage. I overheard some fellow Prommers discussing how they actually like this, but I’m afraid I don’t agree, and the irony is I had a fellow passenger with similar loud breathing (no doubt due to a cold) sitting behing me on the train today, until I decided to move seats!

After the interval came tonight’s instalment of Scriabin, with his third symphony. This contained the sort of colourful harmonies and textures that I’m starting to know Scriabin for, although it was nowhere near as crazy as the Poem of Ecstasy from last week.

At the end of the concert, we were treated to an orchestral encore. Ashkenazy actually held up his hands during the applause and spoke to the audience. First he said he thought we must like this nice orchestra, then after more applause, he said they would play an encore, and he thought we might recognise the Composer and title. It turned out to be Elgar’s Salut d’Amour. After the encore, Ashkenazy took only one curtain call before deciding to waste no more time, and insisted the two first violinists leave the stage ahead of him. Thanks to this slightly unconventional exit, I was able to leave the hall in good time, and managed to catch my train.

Prom 52
R. Strauss, arr. Artur Rodzinski
Der Rosenkavalier – suite
Ravel Piano Concerto in G major
Scriabin Symphony No. 3 in C major, ‘The Divine Poem’
Hélène Grimaud piano
Sydney Symphony
Vladimir Ashkenazy conductor

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