The Minnesota Orchestra returned on Saturday for their second Prom. This time the concert opened with the concerto, Berg’s violin concerto. The originally advertised soloist, Lisa Batiashvili, had cancelled due to ill health, so Gil Shaham stepped in after just one night off since his appearance in Prom 54. Some people have been commenting at the large number of changed to the line-up this year, even suggesting that the Proms are jinxed. The Berg concerto is another technically-demanding piece with little in the way of melody. Each of its two long movements had quite promising-sounding openings, but never seemed to go anywhere. Another worthy performance by Gil Shaham, though.
There was only room for one more piece in the concert as it was Beethoven’s 9th symphony. This needs little in the way of introduction. It was interesting to see an American orchestra perform what is considered a quintessential European piece, although they were teamed up with the BBC Singers for the finale that forms the European anthem. The four soloists were positioned in front of the choir so as not to be sitting at the front of the stage doing nothing for the best part of an hour. Following the climax of Beethoven’s work, the Prommers clamoured for an encore, but as Shaham had already given us one in the first half, nothing more was forthcoming.
Berg Violin Concerto
Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in D minor, ‘Choral’
Gil Shaham violin
Helena Juntunen soprano
Charlotte Hellekant mezzo-soprano
Eric Cutler tenor
Neal Davies bass
BBC Symphony Chorus
Osmo Vänskä conductor