Talk of the town this morning is of Daiel Barenboim blowing his top at his concertmaster at the end of the second act of the second segment of Wagner’s Ring in the BBC Proms.
Most in the 5,000 audience were unaware of the tantrum but friends of ours who sat in one of the front boxes saw Barenboim shouting and gesticulating at the rather portly leader of the Berlin Staatskapelle, apparently (by the direction of his gestures) at something that had gone wrong in the double-basses. Most, apart from the conductor, found the orchestral performance immaculate.
No sooner had his rage blown out, than he started up again at the poor chap in the front seat, to the evident discomfiture of those around him.
Barenboim seemed to remain dissatisfied for the rest of the evening and did not prolong the applause.
That’s understandable. It was a sweaty night in the Royal Albert Hall. But we hope he made it up with the concertmaster afterwards. If there’s one consistency about Daniel Barenboim it’s knowing when he has gone over the top and quickly making amends.
photo: Chris Christodoulou/Lebrecht Music&Arts
Critic Neil Fisher writes in today’s Times (off-line): A thunderous Daniel Barenboim startled the Prommers at the second instalment of his Proms Ring by giving the concertmaster of the Staatskapelle Berlin a visible tongue-lashing at the end of Act II. What he was guilty of I can’t imagine, because this orchestra takes Wagner to a transcendental level. Nothing was more entrancingly evocative than that final conflagration, exquisitely controlled, flickeringly vivid.
Rupert Christiansen adds a footnote to his Telegraph review: A small but intriguing footnote: during the applause after the second act, Barenboim had a visibly ugly altercation with the orchestra’s leader. Instinctively, I sided with the latter, representing the workforce rather than the management. It all simmered down come the third act, but what can the problem have been?
UPDATE: Could it have been the heat? That’s the line taken by the BBC News website.