Prom 12: This was the third outing for Daniel Barenboim’s Palestinian-Israeli West Eastern Divan Orchestra this proms, midway through its Beethoven symphony cycle. We were treated to a superbly sonorous, expressive and caramel-like Pastoral Sixth and a slightly too-quiet famous Fifth, interspersed with work by modern French composer Pierre Boulez. There was something of a scuffle and kerfuffle when half the audience walked out after Boulez’s unremarkable, faintly grating Mémoriale, missing the Messagesquisse – confusion over a changed programme. The Messagesquisse was, however, worth sticking around for – a short work for solo cello and six further cellos. But next to Beethoven, Boulez just feels irritating, like a bee buzzing round the honeypot.
Prom 15: The highlight of this prom, at least in my book, was always going to be the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major – it’s one of my favourite works for violin. And, while the adaptation for orchestra of Bedrich Smetana’s String Quartet No. 1 in E Minor was soaringly sonorous in places, and Dvorak’s Seventh Symphony was piquant and taut, it did steal the show. It had to – Vadim Guzman, a Soviet-born Israeli, did it with panache, virtuosity and apparent ease (though he was a bit too showy in places, which I felt tugged the music down).