Home » Classical Music » Review – Prom 40: Britten Sinfonia and Thomas Adès at the Royal Albert Hall on 15th August 2016

Review – Prom 40: Britten Sinfonia and Thomas Adès at the Royal Albert Hall on 15th August 2016

Prom 40_CR_BBC Chris Christodoulou_1

Photo BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Prom 40 brought together acclaimed conductor and composer Thomas Adès with the highly respected Britten Sinfonia. Adès known for his innovative modern operas, Powder Her Face, The Tempest and The Exterminating Angel brought his conducting skills to lead Britten Sinfonia for an intriguing evening that combined together the old and new with pieces from Prokofiev, Beethoven, Francisco Coll and Lieux retrouvés by the conductor.

The Britten Sinfonia are unusual because they do not have a principal conductor or director but rather choose to collaborate with some of the finest international guest artists. This has led to the orchestra to being celebrated for its musicianship and versatility.

The evening began with Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 in D major, ‘Classical’ , Sergei Prokofiev wrote this Symphony in 1916- 17 in an imitation of Haydn, it was the blend of the 18th century and 20th century that has made the piece one of the most popular symphonies in the repertoire. The conductor and orchestra successfully managed to combine the pomp and vigour that is the main theme of the piece.

Prom 40_CR_BBC Chris Christodoulou_2

Photo BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Francisco Coll is a Spanish composer who was at one time a private pupil of Thomas Adès, since then the pair have worked together on a number of occasions. This was the London premiere of Four Iberian Miniatures for violin and orchestra and represents a homage to Spain and to flamenco. The soloist was the Augustin Hadelich who is the Italian Grammy-winning classical violinist who is equally at home with the standard violin concerto repertoire and contemporary works. The inventive use of string and percussion entertained whilst questioning the listener.


Photo BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Thomas Adès’s Lieux retrouvés was inspired by the cello’s ‘haunting’ theme and acclaimed British  cellist Steven Isserlis performs it in its new cello-and-orchestra guise. Lieux retrouvés tests the considerable skills of the cellist by combining multiple influences to produce a unique piece that moves from calmness and stillness to the frenzy of the finale. Ades created numerous pictures in a kaleidoscope of colours which Isserlis used to captivate the audience with his considerable skill and finesse.

The last piece of the evening was Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony which was composed in 1812 is one of his more generally light-hearted pieces which is a favourite with musicians and the audience. It often divided critics who found the humour not always to their taste. It provided the perfect end to an eclectic evening of entertainment.The audience enjoyed the Prom for its mixture of old and new and gave the performers enthusiastic applause at the end of the concert.

The Proms are considered one of the greatest music festivals. Some of the best musicians and orchestras in the world with an incredible diversity of music provide wonderful entertainment with tickets at very reasonable levels.

Even though the seats for many of the Proms have sold out, it is still possible to attend if you don’t mind standing in the arena or the gallery. With a large number of tickets available for every Prom at the price of £6, it is one of the bargains of the summer.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and book tickets, visit the Royal Albert Hall website here

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