The best time of the year is here again – PROMS at Royal Albert Hall… my last full season in London so I am certainly making the most out of it!This years line up is simply so stellar that choosing which concerts to attend was a real challenge…

For the third year in a row I had my personal “first night” on 17th July. This years Prom 5 featured an amazing mix of Sibelius, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich – about as perfect as it can be!

Sibelius’ 7th symphony started the evening off. A Dane, Thomas Sondergard, conducting the BBC National Orchestra of Wales just brought that extra bit a Scandic flair into the mix. He is without one of my favourite conductors and the Welsh Beeb are flourising under his baton. The whole evening was one of those moments were time just stood still… from my favourite choir seats it felt yet again, like you were part of the action. There was a depth and mysticality within the play – I guess nordic noir meets welsh tristesse seems to work 😉

Rachmaninovs 2nd Piano Concerto was second on the programme – Behzod Abduraimov playing the solo part. This young Uzbek pianist was a total revelation! His fingers had total control of the ivories. The Rach is yet another piece of music that I literally know by heart and I have witnesses some not so polished performances. However, this one, is by far the best yet that I have listened to! Abduraimov had such an emotional connection with the piece and the tension was almost unbearable – the intensity of the play paired with the electric atmosphere in the hall just made for a memorable performance! Spell binding!

The cherry on the cake for that evening was Shostakovichs 10th Symphony. Huge orchestra with 9 double basses on stage – this seriously caused goose bumps! Whilst I have heard excerpts before it was the first time that I heard this fiendishly tricky piece by this genius composer. The whole hour left you sitting on the edge of your seat. Brass, percussion, woodwind were hard at work. Especially the Allegro went right under the skin. My sister was listening live on the radio and had a similar reaction – even without being there in the hall she could still feel the intensity through just listening. Shostakovich just has that talent to take you on a roller coaster of emotions and this symphony is no exception!

This first concert certainly has set the bar high for this years Proms season! Can’t wait what else is in store as I have a lot of Russian music ahead of me…


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