Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Christodoulou at the Proms
Any reasonably accomplished professional photographer could take a good symmetrical shot like the above, of this year's First Night of the Proms: the Royal Albert Hall and what the BBC sometimes rather garishly does with it at Proms time do the rest of the work. But Chris Christodoulou is no run-of-the-mill man with a camera. He's done some marvellous portraits of conductors in action. Photogenic Dudamel handed it to him on a plate, but last year he also caught, among others, Andris Nelsons looking like I've never seen him before (gurning, to whit).
Actually the problem these days is whether you can get past the artists, and more usually their agents, with a really good, unusual shot. I heard only last week of a certain soprano at the Garden who wouldn't approve any photos of her other than alone - and since she was singing with arguably the greatest, most charismatic singer alive, that was a bit of a problem. Others want airbrushing. But I guess these two images of the great conductors in charge of the first two nights passed untainted. Here's modest, profoundly musicianly Jiri Belohlavek getting reasonably fired up by Mahler's Eighth.
It's always a treat to hear such a piece in such a hall, yet all bar one of the soloists really let it down, as I've regretted on the Arts Desk. No such problems with the Meistersinger line-up the following night. I'd decided to give it a miss so we could hold a birthday lunch for our good friend Niki and go to a birthday drink in a pub in Kentish Town in the evening. Surprise, surprise, when I found the BBC4 relay was delayed until 7pm, I stayed in and had another little weep as Bryn, Mandy and even a much better Raymond Very pulled at the heartstrings. 'Wach' auf' was a tearjerker, too: the WNO Chorus's final tribute to their homegrown superman before the dream team disperses for ever. What a shame, especially since fabulous Lothar Koenigs and the orchestra had just get better, but as Richard Jones said when he came to the class, that's the ephemeral essence of theatre. Chris has captured Koenigs well here.
On Sunday, all eyes must have been on Domingo, because Chris's only shot of Pappano is not a flattering one. He may have a good shot of photogenic Vasily Petrenko, too, but that concert last night I missed as I'd been sent to the first night of the Bolshoi summer season at the Garden hot on the heels of putting Wagner's masters to bed in the eleventh and last class of the City Lit term. Spartacus was fabulous, wild, OTT but never to be forgotten. Here's rising star Ivan Vasiliev, a big boy for 21, and all those shields, photo this time by Marc Haegeman for the Bolshoi.