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2009.07.22 800th Anniversary of Cambridge University, Royal Albert Hall, London: Prom 8

800th Anniversary of Cambridge University

22 July 2009
Royal Albert Hall, London (Prom 8 )

2009 Prom Albert Hall 2

Simon Keenlyside, baritone
Thomas Trotter, organ
Choirs of King’s and St John’s colleges
Choirs of Clare, Gonville and Caius, and Trinity colleges
Choirs from combined Cambridge colleges
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sir Andrew Davis, conductor
Stephen Cleobury, conductor
Andrew Nethsingha, conductor

Broadcast Live on BBC Radio 3

Vaughan Williams: The Wasps – Overture (9 mins)

Ryan Wigglesworth: The Genesis of Secrecy (c10 mins) BBC commission: world premiere

Vaughan Williams: Five Mystical Songs (18 mins)

Interval

Stanford: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in A major (12 mins)

Jonathan Harvey: Come, Holy Ghost* (7 mins)

Judith Weir: Ascending into Heaven† (8 mins)

Saint-Saëns: Symphony No.3, ‘Organ’ (36 mins)

From the BBC Prom website

We celebrate Cambridge University’s 800th anniversary with a concert of music given by a convocation of the university’s college choirs and two soloists and a conductor who are among its graduates. As Professor of Music, Stanford taught Vaughan Williams, who wrote his Wasps overture for a university staging of Aristophanes’ comedy, and later set verses by a former University Orator, George Herbert, in his Five Mystical Songs.

Jonathan Harvey – who this year celebrates his 70th birthday – and Judith Weir also studied at Cambridge. Ryan Wigglesworth went to Oxford but is now a Cambridge lecturer and fellow of Corpus Christi College: in a Proms double debut this season, he returns to co-conduct the BBC SO in Prom 39. Saint-Saëns was awarded an honorary doctorate by the university in 1893.

2009 Prom Albert Hall 1

What the critics say

Nick Kimberley, Evening Standard,  23 July 2009

Rating: Four out of five stars

Cambridge University diversity in Proms show

Forget centenaries, bicentenaries, tercentenaries. Let’s celebrate Cambridge University’s founding 800 years ago. The Proms love anniversaries and assembled college choirs from King’s and St John’s, Clare, Gonville & Caius and Trinity, and more besides. The conductors had Cambridge connections, as did baritone Simon Keenlyside and organist Thomas Trotter; so, too, the composers. Only the BBC Symphony Orchestra was an outsider.

Prince Charles attended but did not join in the National Anthem, and certainly not the line “Long to reign over us”. Then it was on to the proper stuff. Vaughan Williams’s The Wasps Overture sounded oddly like music from a Western, while his Five Mystical Songs received an eloquent reading from Keenlyside, managing to sound conversational while delivering the full weight of expression.

I assumed that Ryan Wigglesworth’s The Genesis of Secrecy referred to Cambridge’s spy-factory reputation, but no. Wigglesworth manipulated “shards” of other’s music, making them his, not theirs. The result was a sequence of shifting moods, skilfully delineated. Andrew Davis conducted.

Andrew Nethsingha took the podium for Jonathan Harvey’s Come, Holy Ghost, which had unaccompanied choir floating across centuries of harmonic adventures, ending up in sweetly destabilised modernity. In Judith Weir’s Ascending into Heaven organ and choir created a jazzy perspective on the celestial city; Stephen Cleobury conducted.

Davis returned for Saint-Saëns, who had an honorary Cambridge degree, although the real reason for performing his Organ Symphony was that it brings the house down: almost literally with the organ at full volume.

Carla Finesilver, concertonet, 22 July 2009

A Cambridge Connection

The University of Cambridge turns 800 this year. Believed to have awarded the first Bachelor of Music degree (in 1464), the university is also the connection between all the composers, conductors, soloists and choirs in this concert. The Cambridge connection is stronger in some cases than others: of the composers, Vaughan Williams, Stanford, Harvey and Weir are alumni, Wigglesworth is a lecturer, and Saint-Saëns once conducted a concert there (although he was awarded an honorary degree for his efforts). Davis, Keenlyside and Trotter also all studied at Cambridge, and the chorus was conflated from the choirs of various colleges. Some critics have questioned the BBC’s decision to centre a concert around one single university – will all universities in the UK be offered a Prom concert for significant anniversaries? – but in truth, for many of us in the audience, this was irrelevant, and the draw was simply an interesting programme combining the new (Wigglesworth, 2009) with an old favourite (Saint-Saëns).

Vaughan Williams wrote the score to Aristophanes’ The Wasps for a 1909 college production. The overture mixes the modal patterns of English folk music with contemporary French influences, and requires quite a firm hand from the conductor and superb ensemble playing from the orchestra to maintain structure and avoid dissolving into mush. Fortunately, these were both present, Davis conducting with a steady tempo but a light touch, so the piece moved along well; the strings perfectly together during the pizzicato and spiccato passages. The woodwind blended seamlessly, with individual parts unobtrusively emerging for solos, such as Daniel Pailthorpe’s gentle woody-toned flute.

The second piece had the excitement of a world premiere, Wigglesworth’s The Genesis of Secrecy being a BBC commission composed earlier this year. The composer has described how he “began by appropriating and gathering various fragments from works [he] had long admired”, finding and developing connections between them, and forming the “shards” into a new musical narrative, with his own music then covering the original fragments until they were obscured completely. I was certainly unable to pick out the work of any other composers, although elements of the composer’s own Tenebrae were present, for example in a cor anglais solo near the start – played beautifully by Alison Teale. This was a piece of shifting textures, often languid but with small waves of tension passing through, for example, long sustained string lines topped by patches of stippled woodwind, or with some combination of sounds from the five percussionists.

Next was the return of Vaughan Williams, this time in the shape of a short song cycle set to the poems of George Herbert (1593-1633) – yes, another Cambridge graduate. Simon Keenlyside was in good voice, strong and resonant yet imbuing the simple melodies with a sense of intimacy – an achievement in the huge space of the Albert Hall. It really was a shame that his time on stage was so short! The massed choirs provided accompaniment, particularly effectively in I got me flowers. However, to my ears, the balance of parts seemed weighted towards the soprano end, and would have benefited from more volume from the lower voices.

After the interval followed three shorter pieces for the various choirs, during which a phalanx of trebles were added, and in which the Directors of Music from King’s and St John’s Colleges took their turns on the podium. Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc dimittis was pleasant to the ear but somewhat lacking in presence and energy. Harvey’s Come, Holy Ghost, however, was riveting. Although early on there were some small inaccuracies of intonation in the top treble lines, these soon disappeared, and the sound was solid and confident. An early “plainchant-style” tenor solo was particularly effective, as was the section where percussive rhythmic consonants first began to enter, signalling the transformation into a more complex and chromatic soundscape. Weir’s Ascending into Heaven, written during the 1980’s, but based on a medieval Latin hymn, completed the choral part of the concert. Using modal structures reminiscent of Messiaen, it also included, as suggested by the title, many ascending lines, including swoops and almost-shrieks from the voices. The organ part was quite independent, and utilised some interesting timbres, including one which sounded remarkably like a 1980s synthesiser.

After what may to many of the audience have been unfamiliar music, the final piece chosen was a well-loved old favourite. Again, the orchestra were a model of precision in the repeated semiquaver entries (which have been known to derail the occasional band), and in their articulation. Although musically played throughout, I found the first movement (the programme listed the symphony in its four-movement version) somewhat restrained, and the slow second lost its shape a little. However, in the third movement the piece really came to life, with vigour and style. Again, the woodwind section were particularly strong, with Chris Cowie’s oboe a highlight. I was definitely not the only audience member to break into a big grin when the Albert Hall organ came crashing in, in its full glory, at the start of the fourth movement, and probably also not the only one to follow it with goosebumps at the piano entry eight bars later. The grin remained in place for the rest of the symphony, and for some minutes after it ended.

George Hall, the Guardian, 23 July 2009

The 800th anniversary of Cambridge University provided the impetus for this celebratory Prom, stuffed with music by composers associated with that institution, plus one – Saint-Saëns – on whom it bestowed an honorary degree. Many of the performers were similarly either alumni, current students or choristers. The sizable main choir, assembled from colleges too numerous to mention, made an admirably pithy sound in Vaughan Williams’s Five Mystical Songs, with Simon Keenlyside the outstanding baritone soloist; his ability to bind words and notes together into one expression was consummate.

But the programme as a whole was a mixed bag. On the plus side was a new orchestral piece, The Genesis of Secrecy, by Ryan Wigglesworth. To create it, the high-flying 30-year-old borrowed fragments from works he admires, though these have become less and less recognisable as his own piece has developed. The result shows a refined ear for harmonic and orchestral colouring, and an ability to create and sustain structural momentum over a 10-minute span.

Two world-renowned choirs – those of King’s and St John’s colleges – joined in immaculately judged performances of Jonathan Harvey’s magical Come, Holy Ghost and Judith Weir’s exhilarating Ascending Into Heaven, conducted by Andrew Nethsingha and Stephen Cleobury respectively. But the main baton duties fell to the benignly authoritative Andrew Davis. He started well, with a lightly aerated account of The Wasps overture. But not even he could prevent Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in A from sounding like badly remembered Brahms, nor the grandstanding of Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony – despite some bracing blasts from Thomas Trotter – from registering as tawdry.

Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 23 July 2009

For a moment it looked as if the Last Night of the Proms had arrived early. Many in the audience for Wednesday’s Prom arrived bearing flags or wearing lapel badges and a few were sporting their old college scarves – the inevitable accessory, even in mid-summer, for a concert in celebration of the 800th anniversary of the University of Cambridge.

The scene seemed to be set for junior common room high jinks but in the event this was a properly sober and estimable evening, out of the ordinary only because of the presence of the Prince of Wales in the royal box and the rather peculiar hodge-podge of Cambridge-linked pieces on the programme.

Imagine a Tripos question that said: “Devise a concert to show off the university’s illustrious musical tradition.” Would the examiners award a first to the candidate who chose Saint-Saëns’ huge Symphony No 3 as the main work merely on the strength of the composer having dropped into Cambridge in 1893 to pick up an honorary doctorate?

Far more plausible were the choral items. The college choirs are the glory of Cambridge music today and it would be hard to better the youthful lustre that the choirs of Gonville and Caius, Clare and Trinity colleges brought to Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in A. (Did Stanford have a copy of Brahms’s Second Symphony open on his desk as he wrote it?) The choirs of King’s and St John’s, with trebles rather than sopranos, brought their distinctive sound to recent pieces by two more Cambridge composers, Jonathan Harvey’s Come, Holy Ghost and Judith Weir’s Ascending into Heaven. But the outstanding performance of the evening came in Vaughan Williams’s Five Mystical Songs, eloquently sung by baritone Simon Keenlyside and attaining a memorable aura in the luminous blend of the combined Cambridge choirs and the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Davis.

A new orchestral work by Ryan Wigglesworth – The Genesis of Secrecy – glinted with imaginative orchestral colours but not a lot more and Davis ended the evening with a scrupulous performance of the Saint-Saëns symphony. Cambridge may not have won the boat race in its 800th anniversary year, but this Prom made a very decent runners-up prize.

Edward Seckerson, The Independent, 23 July 2009

Rating: Four out of five stars

800 years of music at Cambridge was one Proms celebration for which there would be no shortage of choirs.

In fact all the composers, soloists, conductors, and – judging by the visibility of tiny flags – most of the audience had some sort of association with Cambridge University. As one of the outsiders, I was duly humbled.

Three of the choral works were new to the Proms but the World Premiere, a BBC commission, came from recent fellow of Corpus Christi College, Ryan Wigglesworth, and this has to be the first time a Proms composer has owned up to a serious of righteous “steals” (i.e. borrowings from works he has long admired) as the basis for his own musical narrative. His title, The Genesis of Secrecy, underlines his refusal to reveal what they are, though I would venture that it is Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphony that illuminates the opening seconds like a warning flare.

From that source of energy Wigglesworth – who can certainly write for the orchestra – powers the momentum of his beautifully worked piece. But it is the moments of deep repose and expansion – in cor anglais and a Berg-like chorale of strings – that anchor it and tell us that these are notes that come from somewhere.

That’s the mysterious thing about music: it’s easy to recognise but hard to define what makes it special. Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs exude that certain something that makes them an almost “religious” experience. That they are the work of an agnostic is entirely irrelevant; their abiding spirituality could make believers of us all. Simon Keenlyside and Choirs from combined Cambridge colleges sang them with uplifting honesty.

Then the triptych of choral works: Stanford’s fine upstanding Magnificat and Nunc dimittis with its spookily Brahmsian orchestral writing; Jonathan Harvey’s beautiful setting Come, Holy Ghost where cathedral acoustics are all but written into the piece and celestial dissonances miraculously blur into a hypnotic consonance; and Judith Weir’s Ascending into Heaven, characteristically playful, the final wisps of choral sound on upward glissandi like little shooting stars.

One suspects that Camille Saint-Saens’ arrival at the pearly gates went something like his Symphony No.3 “Organ”. What was he doing here? An honorary degree, it seems. I would honour him solely on the basis of that seraphic tune in the slow movement. Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony strings indulged it gratefully while Thomas Trotter, with some judicious registrations, made a mighty Wurlitzer of the Royal Albert Hall organ.

Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 23 Jul 2009

Ivan Hewett applauds a Prom celebrating the splendid musical tradition of Cambridge university, which is 800 years old this year.

This year, Cambridge university celebrates its 800th anniversary, and this Prom was a celebration of the university’s great musical tradition. It’s clearly in splendid health. Apart from the BBC Symphony Orchestra, everyone on that grand stage had a Cambridge connection. The heart of the city’s music-making is still its great choral tradition, and five of its choirs were there, massed on tiers behind the orchestra. The choirs of St John’s and King’s colleges were superb, in two contemporary pieces of church music by Jonathan Harvey and Judith Weir.

Five of the six composers either studied or taught at Cambridge, including Ralph Vaughan Williams. His Wasps Overture by graduate Vaughan Williams is a favourite curtain-raiser, but conductor Andrew Davis made its curious blend of French glister and public grandeur seem fresh. Later, we heard Vaughan Williams’s Five Mystical Songs, and Davis’s canny pacing of the music, combined with the radiant sound of baritone Simon Keenlyside and the choirs gave an urgency to the transcendent aspirations. In between, came a new piece from young Cambridge composer Ryan Wigglesworth. Its title, The Genesis of Secrecy, was borrowed from Cambridge critic Frank Kermode and, under its refulgent, beautifully worked surface, you could catch glimpses of the references Wigglesworth mentioned in his programme note, including – if I’m not mistaken – the melancholy descending patterns of another Cambridge alumnus, Thomas Adès.

These musical nods and winks gave an inward-looking slant to the evening, magnified by Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis – one of the oddest choices of music for a Prom I can remember. The Mag and Nunc tradition has produced some lovely things, but in a domesticated, intimate idiom which in the full glare of the Proms is bound to seem thin. This whiff of the cloister, plus all the little flags bearing the legend “Cambridge 800”, made me feel that I was at a private Cambridge celebration to which we Proms regulars were graciously invited.

At the end, with the grand noise of Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony (soloist Thomas Trotter, an ex-King’s organ scholar), it felt as if the Proms was being restored to itself. Davis’s unerring sense of pacing minimised the work’s moments of bombast, and made the progress to the blazing finale seem thrilling and inevitable.

Richard Morrison, The Times, 24 July 2009

Rating: Four out of five stars

Starred firsts all round for the performers; but the Proms programme-planners would be lucky to scrape a third

The sight of middle-aged people clutching little University of Cambridge flags as they entered the Albert Hall made one fear the worst. Would this Prom, celebrating Cambridge’s 800th birthday, be like some reunion of ancient college chums with unusually grand music?

Well, yes and no. I don’t think there were many punters in the stalls who couldn’t put MA (Cantab) after their monikers. But this was a serious concert, superbly performed. If its aim was to show that Cambridge’s world-class choral traditions are being fortified and widened with each passing decade, the case was irrefutably made.

Nowhere more stunningly than in Vaughan Williams’s Five Mystical Songs — a quintessential Cambridge event. Composer and chosen poet (George Herbert) both attended Trinity College, albeit three centuries apart. Sir Andrew Davis, the conductor, was once a King’s College organ scholar. The choir of 200 exquisitely tuned and superbly focused young voices was drawn from all the Cambridge chapel choirs. And the baritone soloist — Simon Keenlyside, in glorious form — was himself once a Cambridge choral scholar.

The same exemplary choral clarity made even Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in A (done here in its original, soupy orchestral version) sound thrilling. That was performed with women on the upper parts. But Cambridge also has two renowned men-and-boys choirs: King’s and St John’s. And it was a rare pleasure to hear those highly competitive ensembles pool their resources (under Stephen Cleobury and Andrew Nethsingha, their respective directors) to sing two modern choral works: Jonathan Harvey’s Come Holy Ghost, growing from a single plainchant line to a fabulously multi-textured polyphony; and Judith Weir’s puckish Ascending into Heaven.

The BBC should surely have devoted the whole concert to the choirs. Instead, the BBC Symphony Orchestra was roped in, first to premiere a new piece, The Genesis of Secrecy by Ryan Wigglesworth (ten minutes long, but with about ten hours’ worth of fidgety ideas piled up between Mahlerian string passages); then to join the organist Thomas Trotter in Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony. Why end an event like this with a bloated splurge that has no real Cambridge connection, and leave all those wonderful choirs sitting silently on the sidelines? Starred firsts all round for the performers; but the programme-planners would be lucky to scrape a third.

Stephen Graham, musicalcriticism.com

Rating: Four out of five stars

The 800th anniversary of Cambridge University was celebrated in Prom 8. The programme was filled with composers associated with the university, such as old alumni Vaughan Williams, Charles Stanford, and Jonathan Harvey. The musicians on the night were drawn equally from that same source; Cambridge’s remarkable choral tradition was represented by the presence of a number of its choirs, whilst conductor and soloists Andrew Davis, Simon Keenlyside and Thomas Trotter, are all former students.

The presence of Prince Charles added to the pageantry of the whole occasion (and seemed to gratify some members of the crowd), though the more progressively inclined members of the audience would probably have gladly foregone both the headache-inducing queues and the painful romantic jingoism of the stout singing of the British National Anthem (albeit given a booming new arrangement by David Willcocks) that his attendance imposed upon them.

Vaughan William’s Overture to The Wasps dispelled some of this discomfiture from the Hall, with its clever and expressive melding of French harmonic and colouristic touches to a pleasing folksy joviality. The same composer’s Five Mystical Songs, with a reliably sturdy (though as ever with a vocal soloist somewhat singing into the wind in the Hall’s draughty excesses) Simon Keenlyside alternately searching and intimate, like his accompanists, came later. It is another pastorally-inclined work that yet burrows deep into little nooks and crannies of harmony and texture, to irrigate Herbert’s rich poetic texts with a sort of majestic bearing, an enriched perspective. The chorus, comprised of singers from across the various colleges for this cycle, gave firm and impressively secure support throughout.

Ryan Wigglesworth’s The Genesis of Secrecy was given its world premiere in between the two RVW works. It is a confident and expressively-scored piece that has echoes of Magnus Lindberg in the orchestration and design, with older composers such as Sibelius and Debussy clearly inspiring some of the tonal and textural gestures. It was performed with some grace, particularly in the sensitivity to string colour and the vivid cor anglais solos, though it all felt a little tentative. The conclusion, particularly, after the return of the velvety string music, felt totally misjudged by Davis. In his eagerness to draw out the composer’s limpid formal design, the conductor did not attend adequately to the languid phrasing and the cadential stresses required.

Davis was strapping in Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc dimittis after the break. The work is full of heft and vigour, and the careful design played out well in this reading. The choirs, again from combined colleges, proved dynamic and capable once again. Two more recent works followed the Stanford. Jonathan Harvey’s setting of the famous chant Veni Creator Spiritus, entitled Come, Holy Ghost, is both clear-sighted and enigmatic. Over four clear sections, he employs simple games of counterpoint and texture, aligned to a cunning retooling of simple modal design, to conjure a psychedelic sound full of misty harmonies and hallucinatory gestures. The piece remembers the chant just as it is forgetting it. It is revenant and newborn, haunted but alive. The King’s and St. John’s College Choirs provided the young ensemble of singers. They struggled gamely with the vaporised textures, sometimes losing sight of each other, but always pristine in tone and capable with even the most hushed dynamics (helped along by conductor Andrew Nethsingha).

Judith Weir’s Ascending into Heaven was equally impressive, though its wonderfully naïve use of bare octatonic contours and charming trochaic comportment produced a very different impression in sound than the Harvey. Thomas Trotter on organ and Stephen Cleobury on the podium gently danced around the young singers’ accomplished efforts. Camille Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony, with Trotter again on organ and Davis back as conductor, rounded out the programme. The piece is, of course, as thrilling in colour and energy as it is clever in design. Davis and the players of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, who had been on confident form all evening, dispatched every twist and turn with aplomb. The opening sounded prone, the scherzo almost burst over every bar line with the thrill of the chase, and the finale mesmerically rocked and swayed in and out of flickering pulses and jostling thematic working. A sprawling climax, huge and rousing as it should be, brought another motley evening at the Proms to a close.

Bob Briggs, Seen & Heard

This was a suitably jubilant show to celebrate 800 years of Cambridge University where music has played a big part of its activities, from the awarding of the first Bachelor of Music Degree, to one Henry Abyngdon, in 1464, through to the present day with its symphony orchestras, choirs and the commissioning of new works.

Sir Andrew got things off to a rip-roaring start with a cracking performance of Overture to the incidental music for  The Wasps which Vaughan Williams wrote in 1909. This was a no nonsense reading, full of bluff humour but with a beautifully understated middle section. Sheer delight. The Five Mystical Songs, settings of George Herbert, were very well done with Simon Keenlyside a fresh voiced and well disciplined soloist. These songs are difficult to bring off successfully for they move from one emotion to another in the twinkling of an eye and if Sir Andrew wasn’t quite alert to every single change he is to be commended for what he achieved – there was a slight lack of wide–eyed awe in Easter, the first song, and the passion of the outburst Truth Lord, but I have marred them in Love bade me welcome (the third song) was glossed over, but these are small points. With the massed choirs – which could make the most meltingly gorgeous pianissimo to a raucous fortissimo – this was a performance to relish. We don’t hear this piece too often, and one wonders why, for it’s short and compact and has bags of energy and is great fun too!

Between these two works there was the world première of The Genesis of Secrecy by Ryan Wigglesworth. This was my first encounter with Wigglesworth’s music and I was impressed. After an uncompromising opening a long breathed theme on cor anglais grew from the texture and there was much sumptuous string writing. A macabre scherzo–like middle section provided contrast and the ending was questioning, leaving us suspended in the air. The orchestration was assured and very complex and if I have one criticism it was an overuse of the lashings of percussion the composer had allowed himself. I found much of the percussion writing unnecessary and it simply got in the way of the musical argument; Wigglesworth was at his best when using a delicate stroke of the gong or a roll on the suspended cymbal to highlight, and heighten, a phrase rather than the all out assault he occasionally let loose. But whatever my reservations this was an impressive piece of work and it bodes well for Wigglesworth’s future development as a composer, and even better, he supplied a succinct note in the programme book.

After the interval, Stanford’s early (opus 12) setting of the Evening Canticles was given with full orchestra and it sounded as fresh as ever with some excellent choral singing. Sir Andrew is never happier, I feel, than when directing this kind of English music – and it was followed by Andrew Nethsingha and Stephen Cleobury  respectively, directing the Choirs of King’s and St John’s Colleges in Harvey’s ethereal Come, Holy Ghost and Judith Weir’s more complex and demanding Ascending into Heaven – which obviously isn’t an easy journey. The sound of the boys’ voices in the big acoustic of the Albert Hall was quite magical.

To end, Sir Andrew directed a very enjoyable performance of Saint-Saëns’s 3rdSymphony with Thomas Trotter at the organ. This is a fabulous piece and in the right hands, as tonight, it makes a big impression. The first movement was full of expectation, the climaxes built steadily and never allowed to become overblown. The slow movement was full of love and devotion, was never allowed to lapse into sentimentality and there was some very subtle playing from Trotter. The scherzo was all forward momentum, and quite dark too, with a suitably lighter trio section. Only in the finale was there a miscalculation where Trotter went all out, seeming to have literally pulled out all the stops, and at times he overwhelmed the orchestral sound – I listened to the recording on the BBC iPlayer when I got home and found the balance slightly better but nowhere near as good as it should have been:Sir Andrew should have been more forthright and demanded some restraint. But overall this was as good as it gets and it was most pleasurable and the massive climax at the end brought the house down. It was good to hear this old friend being treated to such an exuberant performance.

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