★★★★☆ Berlioz’s fantastic passions gets the Australian franchise of the BBC Proms off to a solid start.

Hamer Hall, Melbourne
April 13, 2016

It may only be a miniature replica, but the first international outing for the UK’s largest and most celebrated classical music festival, the BBC Proms, is cause for excitement nontheless. This inaugural season of the BBC Proms Australia, taking place this week in Melbourne, consists of just five concerts, in stark contrast to the 90-plus that take place in London. With so few dates to deliver proof of concept for this imported franchise, shrewd programming as had to be front of mind, so in order to draw a respectable crowd to this pilot year, a leaning towards lighter, more effervescent repertoire, over more earnest works, has clearly been the strategy.

And who better to helm the first performance in this series than Sir Andrew Davis, one of the Proms’ most seasoned luminaries. In many respects, not least the conspicuous absence of any promenade area for low-cost standing tickets, it’s almost impossible to accurately transplant the Proms from its home at the Royal Albert Hall, but at least with Davis on board, this would a musically authentic experience.