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In which 6000 people are given silly things to do, with 1008 setting some of them to music - The Titfield Thunderbolt
Heisenberg might have stayed here
In which 6000 people are given silly things to do, with 1008 setting some of them to music
I attended both Proms last night. The main concert was a Central European programme performed by the excellent Budapest Festival Orchestra, conducted by Iván Fischer. They began with the orchestral version of Prokofiev's Overture on Hebrew Themes, surprisingly a first performance at the Proms of this work. The principal clarinettist was to the fore of the orchestra as the Klezmer-inspired tunes rang out. I was particularly struck by the measured tempo: any slower would have begun to turn it into a dirge, but it was paced to allow you to hear all the notes and anticipate what was coming next, like a dish whose taste is perfectly balanced between sweet and sour.

Leonidas Kavakos joined the orchestra for Bartók's Violin Concerto No. 2. I'm not familiar with this piece, and Bartók is not one of my favourite composers, but it was colourful and energetic; the final movement in particular made me think of it as a concerto for orchestra. Perhaps it was more subverted, but I also felt there were clear folk-themes woven into the music, not unusual for Bartók.

The second half of the concert was taken up with Dvořák's Symphony No.7, which showcased the rich sound throughout the orchestra. "We have no more serious music for you", intoned Fischer at the end, no doubt deliberately setting the tone for the following concert. Strauss' Peasant Polka, complete with orchestral "La"s, was played as an encore.

The late night Prom featured the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and was not to be taken too seriously. Amidst classical reworkings and tunes from the Hit Parade, there was also dry verbal humour. Fortunately, the amplification of the eight performers on the stage meant that they dominated the combined "performance" of Beethoven's Ode to Joy featuring approximately 1000 ukuleles brought in by the audience and scattered throughout the hall. (If you weren't there, you missed the tuning up and rehearsal before Radio 3 began its broadcast). I've never heard The Ride of the Valkyries or The Dam Busters March in quite that way before, and I haven't heard Anarchy in the UK or Wuthering Heights like that either.


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uitlander From: uitlander Date: August 19th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I contemplated going down for the ukelele prom, but as with many of the late nighters that have tempted me over the years, the hassle of getting back was too much. Instead I listened to it in my office today and enjoyed it, although I think the iplayer version has more bits cut out than expected.
qatsi From: qatsi Date: August 19th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, the late night transport is far from ideal, and it does bug me when programmes seriously over-run their advertised times (this one overran by about 10 minutes, not that bad I suppose, but it's quite sensitive that late at night). On this occasion so many people milling aimlessly in the Arena ("don't you have homes to go to?") meant that I was stalled for a few minutes, and saw a Circle Line train leaving as I came down the steps at High Street Kensington, so I missed the 23:48 from Paddington by 4 minutes. (The last "fast" train, which I caught, is at 00:21 - getting back to the house just before 01:30. There are stopping trains after that; it's by no means as comprehensive as the Oxford Tube, but you can get back to Reading at any time of the night ... except for Saturday night/Sunday morning, IIRC, when of course no-one would have a late night out).

I imagine it's far more tricky to exit in your direction; Paddington is a relatively benign commute from the RAH.

If you can get time/crash space in London, the Michael Nyman band is doing excerpts from The Draughtsman's Contract inter alia next Tuesday.
uitlander From: uitlander Date: August 19th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
*nods* I did look at the programme when it came out, and sighed heavily at the timings of the ukelele orchestra and the Michael Nyman one, which were the two I would have liked to see. Next week I am away anyway now, but the combination of 'school night' and late night + transport to Cambridge is not a good one.
qatsi From: qatsi Date: August 20th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the iplayer version has more bits cut out than expected

I've just finished Listen Again, I think it was all there.
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