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Proms 2008 - The Titfield Thunderbolt
Heisenberg might have stayed here
Proms 2008
Handily, this year the BBC have thought to give us a whole season view for the Proms. My initial thoughts are that this is a rather different season, and I'm sceptical of those who assert that it's all planned by Nicholas Kenyon, who retired from the directorship last year; there's quite a different flavour to Roger Wright's first season in charge. And, like Patrick Troughton, I don't like it. It looks like a bifurcation into "Classic FM" low-brow proms, and unpalatable extremes on the other side. Of course that's a matter of taste; and it is Messiaen's centenary year, and Stockhausen died last year. There is a history, too, of those who have tried to drop Henry Wood's Fantasia on British Sea Songs from the Last Night programme; is it the end of civilisation?

So I'm underwhelmed on the rather small count of must-see concerts, but there are nevertheless some that could be interesting. My current long list is:
  • Prom 9 - a rather long programme of Mendelssohn and Brahms, an interesting idea to reconstruct a programme from 1958

  • Prom 18 - Monteverdi for the Glyndebourne Prom, perhaps an obvious choice after my holiday in Venice last year

  • Prom 22/23 - one of the positive features of this year's programme is a number of Sunday afternoon organ recitals, and I admit Messiaen works rather well there; followed in the evening by Das Lied von der Erde (and other light classics)

  • Prom 24 - Henry Wood's orchestration of the fugue of BWV565 opened the 2004 Proms, and I enjoyed it; so it would be interesting to hear his orchestration of Rachmaninov's famous prelude too

  • Prom 29/30 - Vaughan Williams also features heavily this year; he's not a composer I know much, but perhaps worth experimenting; and barring some labotomised TV tie-up, it keeps the Olympics away, with the option of a late-night Prom to follow (which means getting home very late, but it is a Friday)

  • Prom 50 - more organ music on Bach day, with the possibility to stay for further concerts

  • Prom 59 - there's a lot of Rachmaninov this year too, it's acknowledged in the season notes but for no discernible reason; nevertheless, this programme also includes Sibelius' First Symphony, which is a favourite of mine

  • Prom 60 - I recall seeing Lang Lang on TV a few years ago, wearing one of his colourful Chinese outfits - for a moment I mistook him for Jacqueline Pearce!

  • Prom 65 - two favourite symphonies, the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle

  • Prom 72 - never mind the Mozart, it's Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony in the second half

  • Prom 76 - the Last Night - Beethoven's Choral Fantasia is a favourite; it requires an unusual combination of artists, which makes it rarely performed, but this is probably just the right setting for it. The second half looks decidedly serious, but who knows, and Roger Norrington is an interesting choice of conductor

I've left out a couple of Rimsky-Korsakov and Janáček programmes. So it seems there is quite a lot there, it's just not that much for me to get excited about. Maybe that's no bad thing, after all everyone needs a break; it's just that it then becomes more difficult to choose.

Current Music: Glass/Shankar - Passages

3 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 11th, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Prom 69, 6 September, Rachmaninov and Debussy
Prom 68, 5th September, Stravinsky
Prom 47, 21st August, Dvorak, Janacek
Prom 46, 20th August, Tchaikovsky
Proms Chamber Music 5, 18th August Jordi Savall
Prom 18: 31st July, Monteverdi
Proms Chamber Music 2, 28th July, Monteverdi

- K
shui_long From: shui_long Date: April 12th, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not a very exciting season, no. There's not that much that I will make a point of listening to on the radio ("listen again" does make that rather easier), and only a couple that I'd actually consider buying a ticket to attend.
I'm glad to see the Vaughan Williams anniversary being recognised - but they've missed out my two favourite symphonies (3 and 5). Everyone seems to regard Elgar as the English composer, but I think RVW has a better claim to that title.
obnoxious_muso From: obnoxious_muso Date: April 14th, 2008 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was SCANDALISED that they got rid of the Henry Wood Sea Songs. I pretty much had to restrain myself from screaming obscenities in the press conference. It's cheesy as hell, but for me it's always the highlight of the Last Night. And one of the best things about the Proms in general, and especially the Last Night, is the reverence with which Henry Wood is treated, and cutting his piece is SOOO not in the spirit of that. I'm actually genuinely upset. Not impressed.
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