Finally, the Proms is properly underway for me. Mark Simpson on clarinet playing Magnus Lindberg’s effervescent and wibbly-wobbly clarinet concerto, matched with Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony from the BBC Philharmonic and Juanjo Mena.
I like the relative simplicity of the programme – one work in the first half, another in the second. I like the way one has influenced the other in terms of its selection, and excepting the complexities of Lindberg’s scoring for the solo clarinet, I also like the unfussiness of the concert.
And, most notably for me, I like Simpson. I admire the way he’s followed a distinct path ever since winning Young Musician – a commitment to new and contemporary music both in his own composing career and his playing. It could have been so easy to follow a predictable path – I see him as choosing not to do that. And that’s reflecting in his social media too – one of only a handful of classical music people who get how use the tool to project an authentic and likable personality.
The Shostakovich Leningrad shone summer into the Royal Albert Hall at last, odd given the militaristic subject matter of the symphony. But Shostakovich’s symphonic works do that – its something about the harmonies and the textures I instantly associated with long, hot demanding summers.
Really enjoyed the Shostakovich. Prompt. Resilient. Defiant. Listened to it three times over on iPlayer. Loved it.