So who did go to this concert? I went to it tonight (late as usual).
The opening Nomos Gamma I found totally gripping. The experience is nothing like Gruppen: Xenakis has the strings onstage (which in the Philharmonie is a little way off the centre of the space) and everyone else distributed to random (?) points in the audience and around the periphery. (How was this done in the RAH?) The result was that the entire hall was filled with sound one moment, reduced to a lone contrabassoon somewhere in the gallery the next, and the whole was punctuated by bursts of drumming from everywhere. I'd listened to a recording a couple of days ago but this (along with the opening minute or so of the concert, when I thought the woodwinds weren't taking their impossible glissandi seriously enough) led me to expect to be underwhelmed, whereas in fact I was pretty much over-.
Rachmaninov in The Isle of the Dead sounded in comparison like pedestrian, unmemorable, unsubtle, lifeless sludge.
I've heard Xenakis' Aïs with three different vocal soloists and this time, though the orchestra played magnificently (as did Colin Currie after a hesitant start where he and David Robertson seemed to have a momentary disagreement about tempo), I wasn't so keen on Leigh Melrose's approach, much more operatic-sounding than that of Spyros Sakkas, for whom it was written and who must have performed it dozens of times. Melrose can do all the ululating falsetto stuff, and his baritone register is much stronger than Sakkas', but I couldn't help feeling he comes at the idiom from the outside and doesn't get all the way in. Still, it was a powerful and moving piece as ever.
I wasn't expecting to like the Shostakovich 9 as much as I did (or for the finale theme to get stuck into my brain all the way home), although as I think I said before I think no.15 would have fitted the programme better.
So a mostly good evening. The Philharmonie was I would say about 80% full, which would mean almost two thousand people. I overheard a man sitting behind me remark to his companion something like "I've watched BBC television occasionally but I had no idea they had an orchestra that could play this kind of music."