Evening Standard, 14 September 2015
Barry Millington
Last Night of the Proms, 2015, London, Royal Albert Hall
BBC Proms 2015: The Last Night of the Proms, review
Highlights included Marin Alsop giving a much applauded rabble-rousing speech and James P Johnson’s Victory Stride, says Barry Millington
Rumours that Jonas Kaufmann might launch into German in Rule Britannia! at the Last Night of the Proms sadly proved unfounded. Perhaps as well: the Last Night gets more political each year as it is. This year the union jacks and other countries’ emblems were joined by “protect our BBC” flags and a “Refugees Welcome” banner.

And then Marin Alsop, the first woman to conduct the Last Night — this year for the second time — gave a rabble-rousing speech, much applauded, underlining the importance of music in schools and celebrating the power of music to bring about change in a world of racial and sexual inequality.

Kaufmann had earlier delivered a group of Puccini favourites with trademark golden tone and ringing top Cs. Danielle de Niese brought gypsy allure to Delibes’ Les Filles de Cadix, ripped off by Bizet in Carmen, then led the audience in a Sound of Music medley. There was room for subtlety too, most notably from Benjamin Grosvenor in the exquisite Andante of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto

No. 2. Grosvenor had a starring role too in James P Johnson’s Victory Stride, which also gave the BBCSO a chance to let its hair down with some sharp solo and ensemble work.

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