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REVIEW; John Lill - Welsh Proms St David's Hall, Cardiff ????? HHHHH.

LISTENING to John Lill's captivating account of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2 at this excellent concert I was reminded of what is perhaps John Donne's best known "contemplation".

"Never send to know for whom the bell tolls," the poet advised, "it tolls for thee".

In these times of austerity the bells have been tolling for the Welsh Proms and there have been fears that the death knell could soon sound. The sound of bells meant a great deal to Rachmaninov, the last of the great Romantic Russian composers. His second piano concerto opens in a strikingly original fashion with eight bars of sonorous bell-like chords of the piano.

The chiming figure sets the sombre mood for the movement which was played with deeply-felt emotion and fierce concentration by Lill and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Welsh Proms founder Owain Arwel Hughes.

The near-capacity audience listened in awed silence as Lill gave a commanding performance of the limpid Adagio sostenuto second movement. Pianist and orchestra united to bring the third movement to a rejoicing conclusion that was thrillingly emotional.

The concert had begun with a majestic performance of Wagner's Overture, Tannhauser, which showed Hughes at his commanding best. The Bournemouth brass players were on fine form in the Wagner as, indeed, was the string section. The Wagner was followed by the contrasting delights of the delicious scherzo from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The evening ended with a memorable performance of Elgar's Enigma Variations.

Peter Collins |

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 23, 2015
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