Prom 56 almost didn’t happen, with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra (Jugendorchester) getting stuck in the tunnel on the EuroStar near St Pancras on their way into London from Amsterdam earlier on Saturday. The adventures of a touring orchestra! Thankfully, they made it to the Royal Albert Hall in time, and the way they played in this Prom – well you’d never know there’d been a bit of a problem earlier! This orchestra is regarded as one of the best Youth Orchestras in Europe, and understandably so.
Richard Wagner’s Rienzi Overture was the opening piece for Prom 56, which was very good. The orchestra has played the full concert version of this opera twice recently at the Salzburg Festival, so they are well acquainted with this piece, and it shows in their playing of it. A very cheerful and uplifting piece to start this Prom.
“Heave-ho!” The second piece of this Prom was Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major with soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. I found the first movement just-going, but the second was very beautiful. The final movement too was good. There was an encore of the very beautiful piano duet The Enchanted Garden from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite. Thibaudet was joined by conductor Philippe Jordan to perform this encore.
After interval was Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in D minor. I was thinking that this symphony was a bit average – but the final movement is fantastic, and completely makes up the rest of the symphony only being just-going. This symphony saved Shostakovich’s life, as he had been in a bit of trouble with the Soviets at the time, but the success of this symphony (helped by that fabulous final movement – I don’t doubt!) put him back in the Soviets’ good books.