Prom 25: Gabetta/BBCSO/Stasevska review – stirring and spirited

Royal Albert Hall, London
Dalia Stasevska established a strong rapport with orchestra and audience in fresh and fluid readings of Tchaikovsky and Sibelius, while Sol Gabetta gave shape and intimacy to Mieczysław’s cello concerto

This was Dalia Stasevska’s debut as the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s new principal guest conductor – an appointment that makes her, at 34, the first woman to hold a titled conducting post at a major London orchestra. The players’ responsiveness to her suggests a strong rapport already developing; the silence in a packed Royal Albert Hall at the end of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 6 suggests that she can hold an audience in her hand just as surely. It had been the bleakest of endings to a stirring performance of the symphony, spirited and with a few edges left raw, its dark moments made more vivid by the BBCSO players’ grittiness.

Opening the concert, Sibelius’s Karelia Suite had likewise sounded familiar yet fresh, the middle movement fluid and pensive, the outer ones skipping along, feet barely touching the ground, the orchestra always ready to move when Stasevska whipped things up.

Sol Gabetta plays the Cello Concerto by Mieczysław Weinberg at Prom 25.
Richly lyrical … Sol Gabetta performs the Cello Concerto by Mieczysław Weinberg. Photograph: Chris Christodoulou/BBC

Between these two there was something new, at least for London audiences: the Cello Concerto by Mieczysław Weinberg, a more richly lyrical work than you might expect from the musically proscriptive USSR of the 1950s. Sol Gabetta, who has recently been its champion, shaped the first movement into one long, slowly blossoming melody, and whirled through the livelier passages, even if the orchestra didn’t always share her urgency. The return to the opening music at the end was movingly done. Her encore – Casals’s haunting arrangement of a Catalan folksong, for which she was joined by three of the BBCSO cellists – was further proof that even the Albert Hall can feel like an intimate venue if the performer gets it right.

  • The Proms continue until 14 September.

  • This review was amended on 7 August to correct the statement that Stasevska is the youngest to be appointed to a titled position at a major London orchestra.

Contributor

Erica Jeal

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Prom 8: BBCSO/Eötvös review – classics outshone by the new
Henry Wood’s ‘discoveries’ by Debussy, Bartók and Stravinsky are reprised with care, but it is the conductor’s work for violinist Isabelle Faust that brings this concert alive

Andrew Clements

25, Jul, 2019 @5:51 PM

Article image
Prom 53: BBCSO/Davis review – brilliant energy and genuine beauty
Andrew Davis led a rare and bewitching outing of Hugh Woods’s Scene from Comus, while Sarah Connolly was striking in The Music Makers

Andrew Clements

01, Sep, 2019 @11:48 AM

Article image
Prom 13: BBCSO/Oramo review – variety and virtuoso flair for Messiaen's great work
Messaien’s monumental Des Canyons aux Étoiles … sounded thrillingly fresh with masterly tour de force solos

Andrew Clements

29, Jul, 2019 @10:52 AM

Article image
Prom 60: Vienna Phil/Ax/Haitink review – a beautiful, masterful farewell
Bernard Haitink chose Beethoven and Bruckner for his final UK concert. His flowing and authoritative interpretation of the latter’s 7th symphony foregrounded the music’s beauty but not at the expense of structure

Erica Jeal

04, Sep, 2019 @10:42 AM

Article image
Prom 66: In the Name of the Earth review – gargantuan praise for the planet
Three orchestral choruses and five London choirs united to slightly muddying effect for this performance of John Luther Adams’s hymn to the world

Andrew Clements

08, Sep, 2019 @1:42 PM

Article image
BBCSO/Weilerstein review – simpatico siblings power expressive Prom
The orchestra’s second Proms appearance this year saw Joshua and Alisa Weilerstein lead a smartly restrained recital of of Pascal Dusapin’s concerto

Andrew Clements

20, Jul, 2017 @11:00 AM

Article image
Prom 20: Kuusisto / BBCSSO / Dausgaard review – strikingly unusual twists
A new take on Sibelius is played with tremendous conviction by the Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Martin Kettle

04, Aug, 2019 @1:25 PM

Prom 19: BBCSO/Dausgaard – review
Two interesting Danish works preceded a mixed programme of Russian classics, writes Tim Ashley

Tim Ashley

29, Jul, 2012 @11:10 AM

Prom 70: BBCSO/Robertson – review
The UK premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's wonderfully rich violin concerto was the second remarkable performance by Christian Tetzlaff at this year's Proms, writes Andrew Clements

Andrew Clements

08, Sep, 2011 @11:13 AM

Prom 34: BBCSO/Bychkov – review
The BBC Symphony Orchestra played for Semyon Bychkov with fresh ambition in the first concert since his newly announced position with them, writes Martin Kettle

Martin Kettle

09, Aug, 2012 @4:06 PM