Review: Welsh Proms Cardiff

July 27, 2012 No Comments »

Conductor Owain Arwel Hughes

It is the final weekend of the Welsh Proms Cardiff this weekend, with the Last Night of the Welsh Proms 70th Anniversary Concert being held on Saturday night. Here, yourCardiff guest blogger Francis Moore-Colyer reviews last weekend’s Hall of Fame Prom at St David’s Hall

‘Hall of Fame Prom’ at the Welsh Proms Cardiff at St David’s Hall. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes.

Despite the balloons and champagne strewn around the foyer of St David’s Hall there was little pomp or ceremony at this ‘Hall of Fame Prom’ on Sunday afternoon.

There seemed instead simply to be an emphasis on presenting the music carefully for the audience to enjoy. This is refreshing for such a ‘pop’ concert in which the music is usually presented as a whole ‘show’ complete with special guests, lighting and other gimmickry, all of which is, as it were, forced upon the audience.

Owain Arwel Hughes, however, seemed happy to stick to the pallet of orchestral colour available to him and avoiding large choirs, famous tenors, or fireworks display men.

Wagner’s Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin opened the concert, and Dvorák Slavonic Dances, some Tchaikovsky ballet favourites, and classics by Vaughan –Williams and Rossini, amongst others, all came later on.

The care and attention given to refining these old orchestral ‘standards’ was admirable, in stark contrast to so many groups would have just ‘reeled them off’ without a second thought.

There was great orchestral unanimity, section leaders worked hard to help the various parts of the texture work together, and thus the many great moments in the pieces were brilliantly accented. Indeed both conductor and orchestra showed great dynamism as if they had a point to prove. The particular care invested in their performance of Vaughan-Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis suggests that the orchestra were on a mission to stand out in what is, after all, a saturated orchestral market.

Regardless of the occasional loss of tone in the violins and the ‘safe’ speeds which led to a certain lack of ‘edge’ in some of the music, the concert was a great treat for the Cardiff audience. It was an evening replete with colour and drama for any music lover.

Easily recognisable tunes were there for all, while the sparkling virtuosity on show was exciting for young musicians to admire.

It was particularly nice to see a healthy collection of Prommers in attendance, some of whom stood well forward, waving along to themselves, their eyes glazed-over as the music struck them from close proximity! They clapped furiously at every interval.

It was nice to see people making the most of the joys of live music. So, many happy rewards to those attendees, and compliments to the performers for showing how it ought to be done!

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