Culture, Music

BBC Proms: Nils Frahm and AWVFTS review – an evening of alternative orchestral candour

Royal Albert Hall, London

It was as strange as it was humorous. Nils Frahm, the German composer and tonight’s second headline act for Prom 27, Late Night with BBC 6 Music, had retrieved a pair of toilet brushes and had begun using them to beat the strings of his open-topped grand piano. Yet, as is this virtuoso’s way, with each twang and tremble, an inquisitive rhythm took shape.

This was, as host and 6 Music presenter, Mary Anne Hobbs, said, “a night I’ll remember for as long as I live”. Frahm and A Winged Victory for the Sullen were there to explore the boundaries of classical music. With the help of violin and cello accompaniment and the London Brass, atmospheric duo AWVFTS blanketed the Royal Albert Hall in a hazy hinterland. They also collaborated with Frahm on a brand-new piece (which you can listen to below) of restrained, melancholic beauty.

Frahm delivered an extraordinary feast for the senses, as he flowed between a half dozen keyed instruments and an assortment of synthesizers; raising and lowering, twisting and turning, like a captain at the helm of a complex, 20th-century time machine. He brought vibrancy to the Hall with the acoustic ‘Berduxa’ especially, played on his upright piano. Finishing with the stout melody of ‘More’, which gradually softened, swelling to a triumphant climax, Frahm ended a night of alternative orchestral candour.

Set list
A Winged Victory for the Sullen
Atomos 1
Atomos 2
Atomos 3
Atomos 6
Atomos 7
Atomos 8
Collaboration (with Nils Frahm)

Nils Frahm
Toilet Brushes / More