Sinfonia of London/Wilson/ Chiejina review – a remarkable debut for Vertigo orchestra


Tim Ashley

Royal Albert Hall, London
The first live concert for the Sinfonia, which once recorded the Hitchcock soundtrack, was exceptional, featuring the exquisite voice of Francesca Chiejina

The Sinfonia of London was famous in the 1950s and 60s as a recording and film orchestra, its credits notably including the Bernard Hermann soundtrack for Hitchcock’s Vertigo. It was re-formed in 2018 by John Wilson, again initially as a recording orchestra, its players hand-picked from orchestras and chamber ensembles in the UK and abroad. Their debut Prom was also their first live concert: it was a remarkable occasion in so many ways.

The programme examined the decadence and decline of 19th and 20th-century Vienna, and the main work was Korngold‘s Symphony in F Sharp, completed in 1952, after the composer’s return to Europe from his Hollywood exile. Opinions differ as to both its quality and meaning, though essentially it’s an act of mourning for a world torn apart by Nazism and war, rooted in a retro musical language drawing on Mahlerian post-Romanticism.

On BBC Four 9 September. All Proms are on BBC Sounds until 11 October.

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