Ragged Rachmaninov

Any Prom featuring Rachmaninov's well-loved second piano concerto is bound to be eagerly anticipated, especially when the soloist is the distinguished Rachmaninovian Stephen Hough. Palpable excitement filled both hall and stage, as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra settled down to a vivid if sometimes wayward performance of Roussel's popular ballet suite, Bacchus et Ariane.

Then came Hough and Rachmaninov in a performance that was little short of disastrous. As soon as the crashing introduction brought in the first sweeping melody, soloist and orchestra revealed themselves completely ignorant of the other's intentions. While Hough hurried along at an improbable and frequently unsustainable pace, the orchestra pulled leadenly against him, leaving its usually imposing conductor unsure whether to lead or follow. Small wonder that Hough passed his bouquet to the nearest member of the audience...

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