Like the Cleveland Orchestra before it, the first of the Royal Concertgebouw's two Proms was devoted to a single Mahler symphony. But where the Cleveland's account of the Third Symphony put its phenomenal qualities as an ensemble at the service of flimsy interpretative ideas, in the Sixth the Concertgebouw matched its incomparable pedigree in Mahler to a conductor whose Mahlerian credentials are well established.
Mariss Jansons may have a narrow repertory but the Mahler symphonies have long been an important part of it. There was a sense of confident familiarity about Jansons' approach to the Sixth - in the way he launched into the ominous tread of the first movement so crisply, and resisted all temptation to dwell on the lyricism of the second subject, and in how he knew he could rely on the Concertgebouw's innately expressive strings to deliver the climax of the slow movement without exaggerated rubato. His account of the finale was totally lucid, with every section of the vast movement exactly in place. The total effect was not as emotionally overwhelming as it can be, but for musicality and logic it couldn't be doubted.
The late-night programme of early English choral music from Harry Christophers and The Sixteen offered a very different experience. A couple of items from the Eton Choir Book, by Wylkynson and Cornysh, preceded a substantial sequence of music by Thomas Tallis, whose 500th anniversary falls this year. The Sixteen is marking with a "musical pilgrimage" around the country. The music grew steadily in scale and complexity, beginning with the Nine Tunes for Archbishop Parker's Psalter that Tallis wrote in 1567, moving on to the nine-section motet Gaude Gloriosa Dei Mater, and finally to the last word in a cappella monumentality: the 40-part Spem In Alium, here the singing of the steadily expanding Sixteen getting ever more radiant, filling every part of the Albert Hall's vast acoustical space.