Prom 62: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Petrenko review – exuberant and detailed playing

Royal Albert Hall, London
Iain Bell’s elegant Aurora – in its world premiere performance – was sung with virtuosity by Romanian soprano Adela Zaharia, and Miah Persson brought refined sensuality to Strauss

The centrepiece of Vasily Petrenko’s Prom with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic was the world premiere of Iain Bell’s Aurora, a concerto for coloratura soprano and orchestra, originally written for Diana Damrau, though her withdrawal due to illness resulted in a striking debut from her replacement, the Romanian soprano Adela Zaharia.

The work’s three movements depict the northern lights, viewed over the course of a single night from dusk to dawn. Whether by accident or design, Bell’s orchestral palette resembles that of Sibelius, as rustling strings usher in an eerie twilight in which the lights are first glimpsed in a series of slowly unwinding vocal phrases that seem to hover vaguely in the air.

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