Tuesday 27th July 2010

Last night's Prom was good fun: Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen Prom under the baton of Paavo Järvi with Hilary Hahn as violin soloist in Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major.

Doing those pieces with a chamber orchestra is both a compromise between "original instruments" sound and the gloss of a full symphony orchestra. Modern instruments have more than enough volume to fill a big hall without sacrificing the agility that one instrument per desk gives. So the performances were very fast at times whilst still practically note perfect - I was following the scores - with some very athletic changes in tempi. I'm sure the scholars will continue to debate whether fast speeds are justified but after I had been complaining after our Rotterdam outing that that London performances can sometimes be a bit safe, this was risk taking on the scale of a full Albert Hall Prom, and it paid off.

Hilary Hahn made beautiful smooth sounds from a fantastic instrument and the orchestra moderated its approach.

At the end of the night we had heard a fresh but maybe radical approach to a set of Beethoven pieces that I know well from recordings but have not heard live in a concert, and certainly not together, since my teens. But I did wonder if the lady is till not old enough to understand the heart of the Violin Concert - that's the old tension between the athleticism of a youthful performance versus the wisdom of a more experiences performer. But the concert aimed high and it paid off.

And my walk home through Kensington was both dry (of rain) an a thought-provoking contrast to having walked home on Saturday night in Falmouth.

Looking good for a memorable Bach Saturday in a few weeks' time,