Review: Snape Proms, NYO, Jurowski, Grosvenor, DJ Switch, Snape Maltings, August 4th

The National Youth Orchestra’s annual visit is always a high point of the Snape Proms, and this year, playing under their conductor Vladimir Jurowski, it proved a spectacular musical feast, lasting almost as long as a performance of Rheingold, though it was Russian music which made up the bulk of the programme.

Gabriel Prokofiev is the composer’s grandson, and his Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra is a four movement work in which he explores the expressive potential of the electronic sounds that these machines canbe made to produce, pitting them against the orchestra in the manner of a concerto.

The sounds originate from the orchestra before being processed, not spontaneously, presumably. How its done, I have no idea, but Prokofiev’s music and the electronic interjections created by the soloist, DJ Switch-real name Anthony John Culverwell made for a novel and arresting experience. Switch creates a spectacular sound world, just two of the many memorable moments being the onde martinot like transformation of the flute sound in the andante, and the chatter at the opening of the finale, imitated by pizzicato violins.

Something refreshingly different,and with a stunning virtuoso perfomance from DJ Switch

Benjamin Grosvenor was the young soloist in Britten’s Piano Concerto, a youthful work first performed by Britten himself in 1938. Grosvenor was the piano finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2004, and this year, still only eighteen. has been nominated as a BBC Young Generation Artist.

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He certainly posesses all the virtuosity the work demands, together with a spontaneous musicality, and treated Britten’s revised slow movement with great sensitivity.

It was the biting, incisive brass chords at the begining of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet which set the tone of Jurowski’s choice of a large hunk of this monumental score. The gentler elements were done beautifully, with much fine solo playing,

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especially from flute and oboe, but it was the dramatic music, the precision of the playing and the sumptuous sound he drew fom this superb band that made this such a memorable performance.

Frank Cliff

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