Gergiev provided a very incisive opening to the Allegro of Borodin’s Symphony No. 2 in B Minor before the expansive second subject, always managing to bring surprises by varying tempi and dynamics. There followed a lovely, light dancing prestissimo with a flowing central section where the brooding moments were well caught and with some terrific playing from the LSO. The andante brought a beautifully detailed opening with a very Russian sounding LSO horn in, surely, one of Borodin’s most beautiful creations, given a new feel with Gergiev’s longer drawn, brooding, darker atmosphere, revealing much more drama than usual. A brilliant Allegro, with the LSO responding to every detail, brought to an end this wonderful performance.
Glazunov is still only known for his attractive violin concerto but his Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Major Op. 100 has much to recommend it, not least the memorable tune that opens the work and permeates right through it. Daniil Trifonov www.daniiltrifonov.com, winner of the 2011Tchaikovsky Competition, opened with some beautifully pure crystalline playing and, as the Andante Sostenuto section developed, this pianist demonstrated his lovely rubato and shaping of phrases. There were some lovely poetic passages from Trifonov at the heart of the concerto where it slowly builds in romantic expression. Both Trifonov and Gergiev handled the fleeting moods perfectly before some virtuosic playing from Trifonov when the concerto neared its coda.
As an encore Daniil Trifonov gave the Prom audience an intoxicatingly brilliant performance of an piano arrangement of Stravinsky’s Infernal Dance from The Firebird, leaving us in no doubt as to his technique.
After the interval Gergiev returned to give the first UK performance of Sophia Gubaidulina’s, The Ride on the White Horse, inspired by the story of the First Horseman of the Apocalypse. Remote tinkling sounds from bells and harpsichord and ethereal string sounds opened this work before leading to fuller orchestral sounds that rushed in as though a torrent. Great swirls of sound, complete with organ chords, followed before thunderous drums sounded out, alone, in a kind of rhythmic dance or pattern. This subsided to a quiet brooding orchestral sequence that tried to rise up which it eventually did, with more massive organ chords. A scurrying orchestral passage, with brass chords cutting through, led to a fanfare for brass, violent drums and organ chords in a furious section. A hushed section with chiming bells interspersed with orchestral outbursts before the orchestra rose up again with more brass fanfares and organ chords. Finally the music quietened with the hushed sound of bells as this remarkably atmospheric work drew to a close.
This is another of Gubaidulina’s works that I would very much like to hear again. Gergiev is superb in this music with which he appears to have a close affinity.
Gergiev showed again just how well he can conjure up atmosphere and changing moods in the concluding work in this Prom, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition as orchestrated by Ravel. There was an atmospheric Gnomus, a beautifully blended Il vecchio castello where the LSO woodwinds really excelled themselves and a beautifully characterised Samuel Goldberg und Schmuyle. Bydlo had a really Russian feel, heavy and massive in its force, whilst there was a melancholy, dark and dramatic Catacombs with a very Russian sounding trumpet, a spectral and eerie Cum mortuis in lingua morta and a manic depiction of the witch Baba Yaga before La Grande porte de Kiev where Gergiev concluded the work in a gloriously majestic manner.