Time was when every great orchestra of the world had a distinctive and recognisable sound. Now they are accused of all sounding the same: professional but somewhat characterless. In this age of globalisation should we expect anything different? And does resistance to it sound like protectionism?
I first heard of Natan Sharansky in the early ’80s at a concert in the Royal Festival Hall. It was a programme of Russian music played by a visiting Soviet orchestra.
Barely five minutes into the opening symphony by Prokofiev a block of protesters sitting on the other side of the auditorium stood up, chanting, “Free Sharansky! Free Sharansky!”
It was the highlight of the evening.