Friday, 29 July 2011

Proms Watch 2011 Week 3

This is the third of my Proms-Watch analysis of British Music being performed during the 2011 season. Things are definitely improving...

Friday 29th July
A rare chance to hear Frank Bridge’s tone poem There is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook which has been described by Rob Barnett on MusicWeb International as being ‘the depressive mildewed poetry ... continues the theme of darkness in music and hovers close to the instrumentals in Warlock's Curlew.’

This is part of a concert that includes Arthur Honegger’ Pacific 231 & his Pastorale d’été. Other works include Alban Berg’s concert aria ‘Der Wein’ (1929) which is a setting of three poems from Charles Baudelaire's ‘Le Vin’, Niccolò Castiglioni’s Webernian Inverno in-ver (1973) and Claude Debussy’s orchestral masterpiece La Mer. Well done the BBC Symphony Orchestra and their conductor Oliver Knussen!

Saturday 30th July
The programme does not detail the music in the ‘family prom’ ‘Horrible Histories.’ However, the evening concert is a treat for British music lovers. Midori plays the solo part in William Walton’s magnificent Mediterranean-kissed Violin Concerto. Other works in this Prom include Richard Strauss’ Don Juan and the Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome and Sergei Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky cantata. Once again, well done to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons.

Sunday 31st July
This is an all Rachmaninov night with some works that do not get played quite as regularly as the famous concertos and the Second Symphony. These include Spring, the Women’s and Men’s Dances from Aleko, the renowned Vocalise and the superb The Bells. No British Music today.

Monday 1st August
Monday afternoon sees chamber works by the Frenchmen François Couperin, Jean Baptiste Lully, Jean Philippe Rameau and Michel Monteclair. The evening concert has Beethoven’s Symphony No.4 in B flat major, Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No.5 in F major ‘Egyptian’ and concludes with Franz Liszt’s 'Dante' Symphony. No British Music today.

Tuesday 2nd August
Another great night for British music. The only non-indigenous piece is Richard Strauss’s mischievous tone poem Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche. Nevertheless, it depends on how one regards Percy Grainger. I guess everyone knows that he was born in Melbourne, Australia and died in New York. However, he is often seen as an honorary British composer. Whatever the conceit, it is good to have his Suite: In a Nutshell and his Irish Tune from County Derry. However the main event is a performance of Edward Elgar’s great Violin Concerto with Tasmin Little as soloist. The orchestra is the BBC Symphony conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. The concert opens with a short choral work by Elgar ‘There is sweet music’. This is truly a night to look forward to! Grainger at the late-night prom too!

Wednesday 3rd August
Alas, Wednesday brings no piece by British composers. However the Prom is an excellent programme of music by Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Henri Dutilleux. The main event is a performance of the complete ballet score for Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe. Popularity is maintained with the ever popular Bolero and Debussy’s Prélude à L'après-midi d'un faune. No British Music today.

Thursday 4th August
Robin Holloway’s BBC Commission, the Fifth Concerto for Orchestra receives its World Premiere tonight. It should be a work well worth hearing. The remainder of the concert includes Richard Strauss’ Four Last songs and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No.2 in D major.
The late-night concert by the Tallis Scholars does not, alas, include any Thomas Tallis or other British composers. It is an event devoted to the exquisite music of the Spanish composer Tomas Luis de Victoria.

This week is a great week for British music enthusiasts, with two major Violin Concertos (Elgar & Walton) a tone poem by Frank Bridge, a premiere by Robin Holloway and a couple of short works by Percy Grainger.

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