Well, you could certainly see Midori giving a tremendously committed performance as soloist in the Walton Violin Concerto in the CBSO Prom on Saturday, but you couldn’t always hear her. After two years’ absence from the Royal Albert Hall I’d forgotten how dreadful is its acoustic, and this was confirmed by the deferred television relay.
What we did hear of Midori was silky and eloquent, never sacrificing emotional truth to flashy technical virtuosity, and Andris Nelsons and the CBSO collaborated (“accompanied” is totally the wrong word to use in such a partnership) with attentiveness and colour. What the RAH loses out to in terms of the finest acoustic in the world to Birmingham’s own Symphony Hall is perhaps balanced out by the world’s most attentive audience, 7000 Prommers (many of them standing throughout a lengthy programme) absolutely spellbound in concentration. Don’t be put off by the Last Night Hooray Henries. This is an audience which knows how to listen.
And what it heard were searing accounts of two of the CBSO’s Richard Strauss party-pieces, Don Juan (whose almost impossible opening notes were the first ever conducted by Nelsons to the orchestra back on that heady evening in September 2007) and the “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salome.
But most astounding of all was the account of Prokofiev’s film-derived cantata Alexander Nevsky, the CBSO Chorus projecting its impeccable Russian with such presence in this wafty acoustic, Nadezhda Serdiuk the compassionate, sorrowing mezzo soloist, and the CBSO delivering this vibrant score with verve, aplomb, and brilliant control over its massive paragraphs.
And Andris Nelsons? The huge applause from an audience which has probably never had the chance to experience what a miracle he is said it all.
Rating * * * * *