Only two works in Prom 5, but that doesn’t mean it’s a short one! The first act was the UK premiere of Helmut Lachenmann Tanzsuite mit Deutschlandlied. This was abstract, avante garde – in general, not at all my sort of thing. I did consider giving up on it part way through, but persisted to the end. Parts of it sounded like the orchestra does whilst tuning up before a show, something that is usually quite exciting, especially if you catch bars of things you recognise. This was just hard on the ears. Around the 22-minute mark (on BBC iPlayer) it gets a little better, but the emphasis is on little. I’m really just happy that I managed to stick it out and hear it through to the end. Pieces like this are just not for me.
Act II, however, is what I’m talking about! The Symphony No 5 by Gustav Mahler goes for a marathon 72 minutes, but every one of those minutes is pure musical joy. It’s lush, and melodic, and rounded – it’s like a musical candy store. Few symphonies run for longer than this, and I’m surprised that back in the day no one said, “Look, Gustav mate, don’t you think you’re going on a bit?”, to which Mahler probably replied “Just you wait til you here it”, with a big knowing smile. The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra played this beautifully, and if it was this luscious and gorgeous via iPlayer, I can only imagine how fantastic it would have been live.
(My photo of the Royal Albert Hall)