Comparatively slimmer pickings this week at the Proms for me, and there aren’t any obvious big billings to get excited about either (though that might have something to do with the tantalising combination of both Haitink and Barenboim last weekend).
Saturday 22 July – Aurora Orchestra – Beethoven 3
The Aurora Orchestra are the most exciting prospect in Week 2. I’m a bit of a fanboy. I saw them most recently at St John’s Smith Square in a performance (from memory) of Brahms Symphony No. 1, paired with a new and hugely entertaining dramatic piece by Richard Ayres.
Aurora have something special. Their love of performing is evident from the energy they exude. They smile on stage too. And because they enjoy their music, so do we.
Monday 24 July – Malcolm Sargent’s 500th Prom
Shock horror, this is a repeat Prom, one from 1967. The programme for this concert – largely English music – is the kind of thing I remember hearing at the Last Night of the Proms when I was a kid. Short ‘light’ pieces designed to wow and delight. Only this was the concert Sargent conducted in 1967 shortly before his death. Sargent was chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra who conducted with a very big baton.
Tuesday 25 July – John Wilson conducts Vaughan Williams 9
Everybody in the audience will go mad for the second part of this programme – Holst’s Planets Suite. It’s good. It’s entertaining. But sometimes its gets my goat that everyone thinks its the epitome of classical music – as though once they’ve listened to then that’s classical music covered.
Because it is so very popular it can sometimes be performed quite shoddily. Because everyone claps their hands together with such glee the moment they hear Mars the Bringer of War, all objectivity suddenly goes out of the window. The orchestra could transpose the work down a semitone and noone would bat an eyelid, I’m sure of it.
Holst’s Planets Suite then is a little thorny for me. Approach with caution.
But Vaughan Williams 9 – a different story. Dark, demanding, and hauntingly beautiful. Vaughan Williams at his very best, written and premiered shortly before he died.
Not only that, this is a much-anticipated non-film-score outing for John Wilson. The music is important to him, so too the opportunities to conduct works other than film scores (which I hasten to add he does very well).
Thursday 27 July – Tchaikovsky 6
I haven’t heard Tchaikovsky’s music for ages. Sometimes his systematic and layered compositional style (it often feels like the musical equivalent of watching a builder build a brick wall listening to Tchaikovsky’s symphonies) can be tiresome. But Tchaikovsky’s tortured soul is evident here and sometimes what I need is to hear someone else’s pain.
Also, it’s the BBC Philharmonic. I haven’t heard them for ages.