CBSO Prom review

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CBSO fill the Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall ****

Rumour has it that ticket sales are down for the current season of BBC Promenade concerts. Not so last Monday, when an all-but-packed Albert Hall marvelled at a CBSO on the superlative form we regulars have long come to expect from them but should never take for granted.
This was Chief Conductor-designate Kazuki Yamada's first-ever Prom, fulfilling a long-cherished ambition which he had never expected to achieve so quickly. With his wife and two tiny children present, this was creating a memory to savour, and the joy emanating from Yamada's platform presence glowed throughout this vast building. It was obvious from the orchestra, too.
Glinka's Russian und Ludmila Overture kicked off at a fizz surely too testing for the frequently maligned RAH acoustic, but one in which the strings came through triumphantly, tumbling in brilliant unison. Glorious cello tone turned the singing second subject into an envelopingly warm comfort blanket.
There are hundreds of pieces I would cross the road to hear, but the Concerto for Violin Horn will never be one of them. It has little grasp of convincing structure, it has no consistency of language, veering from Brahmsian plagiarism, through galumphing selfconscious attempts at humour, and even an essay in spiky modernism.
Yamada was heroic in having assimilated this farrago, Ben Goldscheider made noble work of the horn solo, impressive in the instrument' solo chording in the cadenza, but Elena Urioste's violin was all but inaudible.
This was not the fault of the acoustic, since concertmaster Eugene Tzikindelean's soli came through perfectly in the stunning account of Rachmaninov's Second Symphony which followed, muscular, caressing, jubilant and melancholy by turns in Yamada's so persuasive hands. He shaped dynamics almost like a stop-go traffic cop, he built huge approaches to well-weighted climaxes with a sure sense of direction, and coaxed wonderful contributions from his whole contingent of so-willing players, not least clarinettist Oliver Janes in  the wondrous Adagio.
Barely controlled enthusiasm from both sides of the footlights was equalled by the unashamed delight of the conductor himself, beaming, embracing the audience, and turning to his players to give them a deep bow of gratitude.
Christopher  Morley

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