02 September 2018 (gig)
05 September 2018
It's not often that you get to hear two great orchestras on the same day, but the 2018 Proms managed a remarkable feat on Sunday.
In the afternoon there was a magnificent performance of Mahler’s Third performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons. It's hard to believe that this towering masterpiece was once considered a problematic outlier, even though it lets us hear more of the composer's personality than any other work. This shone through in a heartfelt performance which brought the disparate movements together to make a Wonderfully coherent whole.
Susan Graham made a beautiful, intensely human contribution as soloist, along with the CBSO choirs. The brass, woodwind and percussion were particularly remarkable in the outer movements and some of the finest strings in North America completed a tremendous performance.
In the evening, it was the Berlin Philharmonic’s turn, opening with Strauss’s first truly successful tone poem, Don Juan and followed by his second, the real contrast of Death and Transfiguration. Even as he steps in to fill Simon Rattle’s shoes, it was quickly apparent that he wanted to make an impression with precise and nuanced performances. This was even more apparent after the interval with a truly driven rendition of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. Fast paced, but with all the detail of the score brought out in compelling way - and the wonderful sheen of the Berlin strings too.
This was an excellent opportunity to compare and enjoy the American and European orchestral styles and, with this quality, declare a draw.
If you missed either, they can be heard on the Proms website for the next few weeks.