Friday, 19 August 2011

Proms Watch 2011 Week 6

This is the sixth of my Proms-Watch analysis of British Music being performed during the 2011 season. This is a rather poor week...!

Friday 19th August
A big night for lovers of Johannes Brahms’ music. The first half of the Prom has a performance of the Third Symphony. After the interval Emanuel Ax plays the Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor. Bernard Haitink conducts the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
The late-night Prom continues the Brahms theme with Angela Hewitt playing his Three Intermezzos, Op.117 and being joined by other soloists for a performance of the Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor in an arrangement by Schoenberg. Included in this concert is Robert Schumann’s Introduction and Concert Allegro, Op.134. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Manze provides the accompaniment.
Naturally no British music tonight.

Saturday 20th August
The Proms Saturday Matinee has a concert of music by the Master of the King’s Musick, Peter Maxwell Davies, Harrison Birtwistle and the Greek composer Georges Aperghis. The London Sinfonietta is directed by its founding conductor David Atherton. The Proms website describes the Birtwistle premiere as reflecting “on ...ancient traditions in Angel Fighter, a pocket oratorio for voices and ensemble in the tradition of his previous examinations of pivotal myths that resonate down the ages.’ Sir Peter’s work is Il rozzo Martello (1997), which is a ‘contemplation’ on a sonnet by Michelangelo. My Italian is not too good, but I reckon the title is loosely translated as The Crude Hammer.
The main evening Prom is even more Brahms! Emmanuel Ax, Bernard Haitink and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe return to give the Second Piano Concerto in B flat major and the Fourth Symphony in E minor. Would that British symphonists and concerto composers were so well represented.

Sunday 21st August
Good night for British music with works by Benjamin Britten and Colin Mathews. The concert opens with the popular Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge. The new work by Matthews is called No Man’s Land and was commissioned by the late Richard Hickox. It features performances from Ian Bostridge and Roderick Williams. After the interval Mozart’s great Requiem in D minor will be heard.

Monday 22nd August
The afternoon event at the Cadogan Hall features Flute Sonatas by Bohuslav Martinu and Sergei Prokofiev. The other work is a Sonatine by Henri Dutilleux. The soloists are the flautist Emmanuel Pahud and the pianist Eric Le Sage. No British works, alas.
This trend is followed in the evening event. Kevin Volans, who is a South African composer, is represented by his newly written Piano Concerto. This is followed by Richard Wagner’s Meistersinger Overture and Franz Liszt’s La note. After the interval there is yet another Brahms Symphony – this time the great First. Barry Douglas is the pianist and conducts Thomas Dausgaard the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Tuesday 23rd August
British music is excluded from tonight’s Prom. However a strong programme of two symphonies by Sergei Prokofiev –the First and the Fifth. Other works include Henri Dutilleux’s L’arbre de songes and his Slava’s Fanfare. Leonidas Kavakos plays the violin and the London Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Valery Gergiev. Certainly Dutilleux appears to be having a mega Prom season!

Wednesday 24th August
Things do not improve for the British music lover on Wednesday. Sir Colin Davis conducts the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester in Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements, Maurice Ravel’s Shéhérazade and the concert concludes with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor.
The late night concert has Marc-André Hamelin playing a number of works by Franz Liszt including the Venezia e Napoli and the Fantasia and Fugue on B-A-C-H

Thursday 25th August
Tonight Prom is a semi-staged production of George Frederick Handel’s great opera Rinaldo. It depends on whether one regards Handel as being an honorary Briton or not as to whether tonight’s concert counts in the tally of indigenous music. I would not include it!

Not such a good week for British music: with only four works throughout the entire week. It is good to have Britten’s Variations and the new pieces by Colin Matthews and Harrison Birstwistle. Could do better BBC!

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