Olympics over – but Brazil is in London (including the temperatures!!!!) The Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra was back again under the baton of the Chief Conductor Marin Alsop – that concert was earmarked straightaway after the Proms programme came out as I have a bit of an attachment to the Orchestra but more to that afterwards….

The evening started with a Brazilian piece – Marlos Nobre’s Kabbalah. A very typical Brazilian piece of music – beautifully rhythmically and melodic – a great introduction what was going to be a fantastic evening…. you can tell that one of his teachers was Villa-Lobos – there were definitely influences of his in there.

Gabriela Montero, a Venezuelean pianist, who made her Proms debut, joined the orchestra for Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor. What a performance! She is a very remarkable and incredibly talented soloist. She totally embraced the unique atmosphere in the concert hall and it didn’t seem like she was nervous at all! The technical perfection was just spectacular! With the piece being quite well known there is always an added pressure put all the notes were in precisely the right spot! The audience clearly fell in love with her as well – and managed to get an encore. She got right into the Proms spirit and did a little improvisation on the unofficial anthem “Land of Hope and Glory” – of course in a little more jazzed up version – a few chuckles went through the audience.

After the interval we had an excerpt, the Prelude – from Heitor Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasilerias No 4. The piece did get a little bit lost as Marin was attempting to go almost straight into the Rachmaninov.  Yet it is a beautiful little bit of music.

The final piece de resistance were Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances. Just like with the rest of the concert the orchestra was adding so much depth into the music. I saw the debut of the OSESP back in 2012 and the concert back then was already remarkable and Marin had just taken over as their Chief Conductor. Since then they have come such a long way and the warmth in the playing is second to none – I don’t think I have ever heard any orchestra quite like that. It was an absolute joy to be in RAH and witness this different feel to classical music. The fire and passion of South America definitely came through and it took you on an immersive journey…

The audience clearly liked it – we managed to get 3 encores out of the orchestra! You just didn’t want them to stop and just carry on playing all night. The last encore – which was actually the same they played 4 years ago (though I can’t remember the name of the piece) – just got you in the mood to stay on for the Late Night Prom following right on… simply mesmerising…


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