The Organ

BBC Prom 46

BBC Prom 46
18th August

Prom Matinee 3

A new venture, the Cadogan Hall proved an ideal venue for Handel and Boyce which can too easily be lost in the vast recesses of the Royal Albert Hall. Opening with Boyce's 5th Symphony, Laurence Cummings led a spirited English Consort from the harpsichord. The remarkable qualities of the Overture to Thomas Linley's Ode on the Spirits of Shakespeare showed what a loss to English music his very early death was. Two suites from Handel's Water Music rounded of the orchestral items - with exemplary ornamentation and bounce.

However these orchestral delights were somewhat overshadowed by the addition of Mark Padmore whose feel for Handel hardly has its equal among English Baroque performers. He opened with three Shakespeare settings by Arne, finding both the lightness and humour within. From there he moved to the emotionally more weighty settings from Handel's Samson and Jephtha. His stage performances for WNO and ENO in Jephtha were recalled here as he effortlessly conveyed the conflicting passions within the king facing the death of his daughter, a death for which he himself is responsible. Luckily we had time for an encore and Mark Padmore sang Tune your harps from Esther with the welcome addition of Marcel Ponseele's oboe obligato.

I have greatly enjoyed Sakari Oramo's approach to Elgar in he past and recall his giving us a very fine anniversary Gerontius. Unfortunately something seemed to be missing in his reading of The Apostles. All of his forces were praise-worthy and there was nothing technically wrong but even the usually impeccable Catherine Wyn-Rogers seemed to lack fire on this occasion. Though there were moments of great beauty and passion, there were also lengthy passages which lacked impetus and drive, coming close at times to a lethargic drift. The Apostles is possibly the most difficult of Elgar's major works to bring off but I have encountered enough strong performances over the years to know it is possible and can be as fulfilling as anything Elgar wrote. Unfortunately this was not one of those occasions.