Friday, 9 September 2011

It's the The Last Night of the Proms - 2011

The Last Night of the Proms already! Where does time fly?? A bit of a mixed concert from the British point of view. Let us put aside the lollipops (much as I like them) such as Pomp & Circumstance No.1 by Edward Elgar, Jerusalem by Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (this is his only outing at this year’s Proms) Arne’s 'Rule Britannia' and the National Anthem. The BBC have to include these numbers whether they deem them politically correct or not!
However it is a pity that the Sea Songs are not being hear this tear. Probably to make way for the two works by Richard Rogers. Liverpool F.C fans will be delighted with the hit from Carousel ‘You’ll never walk alone’ although where is Gerry Marsden and the Pacemakers! Susan Bullock sings that number and also 'Climb every Mountain' from that little-known film The Sound of Music!

The Last Night opens with as piece by the Master of the Queen’s Musick which was composed for the Musicians Benevolent Fund. The piece is called ‘Musica Benevolens’. This is followed by Bela Bartok’s The Miraculous Mandarin Suite and then the Immolation Scene from Richard Wagner’s Gotterdammerung. Finally, before the interval Lang Lang plays Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No.1 in Eb major.

The real Proms Party begins after the break with Chopin’s impressive Grande Polonaise brillante, Op. 22. This is followed by the Australian Percy Grainger’s very short but very moving Mo nighean dubh (My Dark-Haired Maiden) for choir.
The highlight of the second half is Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. I am not sure that this piece is being narrated however it remains one of the most popular orchestral works in the repertoire. It has been listened to by generations of school-children and for many will form their first foray into the orchestral repertoire. I seem to recall seeing an old film of this piece with Sir Malcolm Sargent and the LSO!
After the Britten, there is the usual ‘pops’ referred to above.

It is a great conclusion to a splendid season. I have moaned about the lack of British music and the possible 'Mahlerisation' of the event, however there has been an excellent selection of music that is both entertaining and challenging. And from a British music point of view there is always next year...

A will do a final count and roundup of the major British works given at this year’s Proms in a later post. Meanwhile, well done the BBC...

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