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Proms Chamber Music 14: Purcell, Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn: Elizabeth Watts (soprano), Daniela Lehner (mezzo-soprano), Allan Clayton (tenor), Alison Balsom (natural trumpet), Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord/fortepiano), Tai Murray (violin), Andreas Brantelid (cello), Shai Wosner (piano) , Cadogan Hall, London, 30.8.2009 (BBr)

Purcell: Sound the trumpet
Suite from King Arthur (1691)
Handel: Semele - Oh Sleep, why dost thou leave me? (1744)
Lungi da me pensier tiranno! – Tirsi amato adorate mio Nume (after 1710)
Sono liete, fortunate (c1710/1711)
Haydn: Six Original Canzonets, Hob XXVIa/30 - Fidelity
The Spirit's Song
O Tuneful Voice
Mendelssohn: Piano Trio No.2 in C minor, op.66 (1845)

The earliest music heard this weekend was contained in this show and celebrated the 400th and 200th birthdays, respectively, of Purcell and Mendelssohn and commemorated the 200th anniversary of the death of Haydn. Four pieces from King Arthur, and a very famous song, got us off to a solid start. Elizabeth Watts was a fresh voiced soloist in Sound the Trumpet and Alison Balsom, playing a natural trumpet, delighted in the King Arthur pieces – very stylish playing here. The selection from Handel and Haydn were well done, but one would have welcomed something a little more substantial, especially from Handel.

Mendelssohn’s 2ndPiano Trio received a performance of great stature. For some reason I’d always written this work off as a poor relation of the fabulous 1stPiano Trio but today I was, very happily, proven wrong. Murray, Brantelid and Wosner gave a thrilling performance of the first movement; this music is turbulent, passionate and very stormy and the three young players realised each and every nuance and brought about a performance of great insight. The slow movement is a kind of song without words, but with real depth in its emotion, and this was contrasted with a gossamer light scherzo. The finale was given a big and very meaty performance, the passion of the first movement was revisited, and there was a sense of triumph in the air at the conclusion. This must rank as one of the prizes of the weekend. For too many years, people, myself included, have thought of Mendelssohn as some kind of half hearted composer of very pretty pieces. This work, and in particular this performance, has made me think again about the man and his work.

Bob Briggs
For further details about forthcoming performances by 2009 BBC Proms the website


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