BBC Proms reviews

Prom 42: BSO/Karabits @ Royal Albert Hall, London

14 August 2013

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall (Photo: Andy Paradise/Royal Albert Hall)

Tonight’s Prom witnessed the return of traditional classical heavyweights to the venue, with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra playing a programme of Janáček, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky under the stewardship of conductor Kirill Karabits.

Janáček’s Sinfonietta opened the programme, with the expanded brass section visibly towering over the rest of the orchestra. They certainly led the way in establishing the inherent regality and impact of the piece but equally the strings offered rich and lustrous support, especially in the transparency of the middle movements. Yet, there seemed to be small signs of hesitancy on show, resulting in the performance not quite matching the conquering, glinting quality of the version delivered by the Hallé in the piece’s last Proms appearance back in 2011.

The brass ranks may have been significantly reduced for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor but the piece wasn’t quite as overshadowed as it could have been, largely down to the role played by South Korean pianist Sunwook Kim, making his Proms debut. His light, caressing style impressed, with his face drawn close to the keys as if being allured through the sheer beauty of the sound. His performance was characterised by a restrained delicacy as well as dazzling dexterity, with solid backing from the BSO. It was Kim’s sparkling playing that deservedly elicited the greatest response from the audience, and he returned to the stage to play an exquisite encore in the shape of Schubert’s Impromptu in E flat.

Slightly surprisingly, tonight marked the first performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 in D major at the Proms since 1965 and while the sense of moderation that saturates the symphony can sometimes be restrictive, the BSO made it come to life. The characteristic Tchaikovsky boldness was certainly detectable in the opening movement and while the middle three movements conveyed a feeling of relative retreat, the orchestra was still able to add touches of luxuriant colour and sensitive tranquillity. The BSO’s attention to detail was also much in evidence and by the time they despatched the fifth movement a satisfying completeness  emanated from the stage. There will be other concerts in this year’s programme that register greater impacts and inspire more talking points but this was a pleasing example of the depth and enduring appeal of the Proms.

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Prom 42: BSO/Karabits @ Royal Albert Hall, London