Thomas Dausgaard – I have a quite special relationship to him… He was the conductor at my personal inaugural Prom Concert back in 2010. Back then he was at the Hall with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra playing Rued Langgaard’s Music of the Spheres and I have a few very pleasant memories from this concert. Therefore I was very pleased to see him again on the programme. This time though he was heading up the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
The evening started with Prokofiev’s Scythian Suite – originally it was meant to be a ballet score for Diaghilev’s company but got rejected as it didn’t get finished on time. Demanding a huge orchestra the evening was of to a rousing start – a wonderfully driven, playful and mystical piece with an amazing brass and percussion section.
The second piece was Tchaikovsky’s better know Piano Concerto No 1 in B flat minor in the first revised version from 1879. The soloist was Kirill Gerstein. I had previously heard him, though I can’t remember where… Boy – can he play piano! It was a beautiful rendition of this very melodic concerto. There was so much soul and feeling in the playing you could totally forget space and time and just get lost in the music. Dausgaard was so closely listening to Gerstein and the dynamics on stage were tangible and so intense. It was amazing to be able to indulge so much into this music – sitting in the first row of the choir seats right behind the percussion section only contributed to that feeling of being carried away.
The evening concluded with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring – can’t leave off on a higher note than that! Even thought the piece is already over 100 years old it still could pass as being written yesterday… Yet again – the full forces of the BBCSSO; 2 tubas, 8 double basses, 9 horns, 7 percussion players – pure heaven! Dausgaard kept the tension in the hall magnificently – there were little moments of total quietness in the hall followed by the full orchestra coming in. You could feel everybody sitting on the edge of their seats… I previously have heard excerpts of the Rite but never the whole thing. Even though I really enjoyed I am glad that I have waited until now to listen to the whole work. Since my eyes – and ears – have been opened to more recent and contemporary music I have learnt to appreciate the creative driving forces. Of course, Stravinsky is not a contemporary but a revolutionary in his own respect. If you are more used to the traditional classical music this almost exotic tunes are a little unusual and you need to warm up to it first. Rite of Spring has, in the past, and continues to divide the crowds.
Nothing can beat this live at RAH though with such a brilliant orchestra and conductor like in this particular instance….just bring and open-minded ear…