Prom 48 had a bit of a Paris connection, with each of the three pieces having received their premieres’ in Paris. This Prom was performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Matthias Pintscher, and, in The Firebird in particular, they were fantastic.
The first piece from Prom 48 was Maurice Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole. This piece has a very slow start, but it gets good around the nine minute mark (on iPlayer), and by the end, I was tapping away to it. A piece called Rapsodie espagnole would not be complete without castanets, so luckily they featured prominently, especially in the last movement. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra sounded excellent, and, despite the very slow start, this quickly became a great opener to Prom 48.
Matthias Pintscher’s Chute d’étoiles followed, a piece which involves two solo trumpets, in this performance played by Tine Thing Helseth and Marco Blaauw. From the opening bar, the enormous percussion section is put to work. This was the London premiere of Chute d’étoiles, and as far as this Prom’s seasons premieres have gone, I really enjoyed this one. I’ve said before that I’m quite a fan of a bit of percussion, and this piece certainly had plenty of that. I thought with the two trumpets, this piece might sound quite jazz-like, but it didn’t really. It was very well played by the soloists and orchestra, and I quite enjoyed it.
The second act consisted of just the one piece, Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird, played complete in the original 1910 scoring. I really love the music for The Firebird, and though I haven’t seen the ballet live yet (Season 2014, The Australian Ballet?), I am very well acquainted with the music and the storyline of the ballet. The BBC SSO played so beautifully. It’s always nice to hear a piece of music that you know and love played so very well. And the ending – well, it’s so well written and it was so well played – thank-you BBC SSO, that was brilliant (and the principal oboists name is Stella! There’s not many of us, so I get rather excited when someone shares my name. Well done Stella in the BBC SSO!).