This “Environmental Prom” was of music linked, sometimes tenuously, to the theme of nature and the environment.
Mussorgsky’s Night on Bare Mountain received an energetic performance under Michael Lloyd, with a sharp contrast between the whirling storm, in which the heavy brass excelled, and the peace of dawn.
The two movements from Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite sound like a Hollywood film score but have a garish charm. On the Trail is wittily orchestrated, enjoyable hokum with its neighing and braying mule, a well-played musical portrait by the BPO’s leader, and comic bassoon interjections.
For sheer beauty of sound Vaughan Williams’ rhapsody Lark Ascending is almost unequalled in the violin repertoire.
The young soloist Anna Ovsyanikova gave us a lark which soared and carolled gloriously, in rich, rapturously sweet tones, before disappearing into the heavens. Listening to this one thought that England must have been, once upon a time, a green and pleasant land.
Ian Barnett’s choral work Ballad of a Living Planet, in its orchestral form, orchestrated by Ivor McGregor, received its world premiere.
As a passionate plea on the behalf of the earth its heart is in the right place but its important message is conveyed in a text that veers between twee platitudes and strident green propaganda, cast into doggerel verse, set to music of numbing banality. The City of Birmingham Choir’s singing and crisp diction were admirable.
Respighi’s colourful Pines of Rome was excellent with a rasping, vigorous final picture of ancient Rome. The final “Prom” element of the concert featured traditional favourites including Wood’s British Sea Songs, Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance March No 1 and Parry’s Jerusalem which ensured a rousing end to the evening.