Bavarian RSO/Jansons, Royal Albert Hall, London

Royal Albert Hall, London

The French-Swiss composer Arthur Honegger called his Third Symphony the "Liturgique". Some might consider the title a misnomer, as the symphony, completed in 1946, has less to do with the formal trappings of worship than with Honegger's acutely personal response to the second world war. It envisions peace at a time of apocalyptic convulsion, and its emotional trajectory has points in common with that of Beethoven's Ninth, with its famous demand that we reject strife in favour of universal harmony.

To underscore the links, Mariss Jansons placed them together for his second Prom with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Both performances were characterised by a sense of heightened drama and inexorable momentum. Honegger's dark sonorities took on the sinister glint of metal, as shards of sound were seemingly flung into the air like shrapnel. The dull rhythmic clanking that permeates the score - created by low piano octaves and pizzicato double basses - grew more frighteningly insistent with each repetition. When peace finally arrived, with a transcendental shift into the major and some rapturously beautiful string playing, the effect was breathtaking.

Jansons treated the Beethoven, meanwhile, as a high Romantic statement in which everything seemed to press inevitably towards the elation of the final chorus. In the opening movement, the lurching volatility of the strings was anchored by the richness of the brass and woodwind. The adagio, taken a fraction faster than usual, was anticipatory rather than reflective. Baritone Michael Volle ushered in the final hymn of rejoicing. It gained in wildness as it progressed, with singing of outstanding fullness from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Chorus. The close, plunging into near frenzy, was thrilling.

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Tim Ashley

The GuardianTramp

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