Thursday 16 July 2009

Imminent Promming: what are you looking forward to at the BBC Proms?

In just two days time, the BBC kicks off its mammoth classical music festival with an epic three half (okay, three part) concert which looks a little bitty for my taste. However, it did get me wondering what people were looking forward to. Back in April I gave an rather overlong view of the things I was going to be listening out for (or trying to listen out for, since it does get a little busy up here during August, what with the little matter of the Edinburgh festival).

However, today I've been having a look at what other people are on the edge of their seats for and very interesting it's been. Jessica Duchen (find her on the web here and on twitter here) tweeted the following:

The Creation, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Martha Argerich. Not necessarily in that order.

I've already heard the Creation this year and this didn't jump out at me when I first glanced through the programme. However, another look finds Prom 2 with quite a lot going for it: Mark Padmore joins the Gabrieli Consort and Players under Paul McCreesh. Argerich playing piano concerti by Ravel and Prokofiev in Prom 60 is another treat I'd missed. I can't say the same of the Budapest Orchestra (Prom 44). They always seem to get rave mentions and yet their CDs, especially an emergent Mahler cycle, have never grabbed me; what I remember most about their three concert visit to the Edinburgh festival in 2006 was their painful failure to tune to the piano for Brahms first concerto.

Back in old media, the Telegraph is apparently employing soothsayers, as Ivan Hewett picks six of the best concerts (something I'm pretty sure we can't judge until we've heard them, not least because the best are often the ones we least suspect). Still, they're the first to pick one of the ones I was really looking forward to.

Elsewhere on the internet musicomh have drawn up a shortlist (and a very interesting one too).

These last two pick up an event that seems common in people's diaries, as exemplified by the BBC Music Magazine on twitter:

Harnoncourt + VPO in the Great C major looks pretty tasty.

I'm always up for the Great C Major, a work that doesn't seem to make it into the concert programmes nearly as often as I'd like, and I'm quite certain the VPO will play it superbly. That said, I don't always get on with Harnoncourt, who can pull things about a little too much for my tastes; in his Haydn particularly, I always find he saps the flow out of it.

So, what am I most looking forward to. Well, that concert the Telegraph also picked up on was the third and final appearance of Daniel Barenboim and his exceptional West-Eastern Divan Orchestra of young arab and Israeli musicians. Depressingly, though, too few share the attitude of tolerance that the ensemble represents and it sounds like protests by various Palestinian groups have put off a forthcoming visit to the West Bank. They're always welcome here in Edinburgh. Their stay in London culminates in a concert performance of Fidelio in Prom 50 and features the likes of Waltraud Meier and John Tomlinson.

The other thing I will not miss on any account is Charles Mackerras doing Gilbert and Sullivan, in this case Patience in Prom 35. Oh yes, and I believe Donald Runnicles will be there at some point (I'll probably listen to that too).

One minor annoyance - I'm very glad the Proms guide this year had a wall planner, which is now usefully pinned to my wall and fast becoming adorned with highlights and pen marks, so must so that I'm not sure how they stand out anymore. Unfortunately, all the people I really want to hear are clearly not telegenic enough as they haven't been used in the pictures for each day (making it much harder to find their Proms at a glance).

Are you looking forward to something different? Let me know in the comments.

1 comment:

Tam Pollard said...

Jessica Duchen's thoughts in more detail in the Independent:

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