Saturday, 17 September 2016

The maracas from Caracas (Simón Bolívar/Prom 67)

Prom 67: Paul Desenne, Heitor Villa-Lobos and Maurice Ravel (Gustavo Dudamel cond. Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall)
In case you hadn’t heard, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra was back in town, bringing some Latin American rhythms to the Royal Albert Hall. The programme started with Paul Desenne, Hipnosis mariposa receiving its UK première, and was simply great fun. Swiftly followed by Heitor VillaLobos, Bachianas Brasileiras No 2, this made the RAH party central, no doubt. It seemed to offer genuine Venezuelan textures layered on to classicism. Deeply convincing. 
Some players take a selfie after the concert.
After the interval, with an atmosphere which was still electric, it was two pieces by Ravel. Daphnis and Chloe – Suite No 2 and La Valse. Truthfully, whilst these were perfectly decent renditions, they seemed rather stale compared to what had preceded it.
As it if to prove the brilliance of the Latin American music, the encore was Giuseppe Terenzio, ‘Parajillo’, from Airende Venezeua. No I hadn’t heard of it either, and it was brilliant. Great to see the maracas player centre stage with something really spectacular .  
Like the football pundits, I might say this was a concert of two halves. The first, and best, dealt with Latin American music I didn’t know; the second was Ravel. The whole concert was a love letter: from Dudamel to his band; from the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra to Dudamel; from Venezuela to the Proms, a sentiment most certainly reciprocated. Well done to those who were sporting Venezuelan flags in the audience.
Full programme
Paul Desenne, Hipnosis mariposa (UK première) 
Heitor VillaLobos, Bachianas Brasileiras No 2
Maurice Ravel Daphnis and Chloe – Suite No 2 and La Valse 
Encore: Giuseppe Terenzio, ‘Parajillo’, from Airende Venezeua
Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra
Gustavo Dudamel conductor

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