Shameless indulgence in the past

Simon and I risked having what I’d considered as one of this year’s key Proms gigs being interrupted when two of our friends visited us half an hour after Prom #2 had started this evening.

Strangely however, we had waved them goodbye just in time for us to hear the one thing I’d been waiting to hear since the Proms brochure came out.

Eric Rogers’ music for the Carry On films was every bit as thrilling to hear this evening as it was when I listened to it time and time again from the recordings I’d made on cassette tape twenty-odd years ago.

I really enjoyed tonight. Tell me you listened to it too.  

Tonight’s Prom: Prom # 2

Music from Great British Film  [Programme available here]

Saturday 14 July 2007

Listen Live at 7.30pm BST @ www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/radio3.shtml

I look at the running order for Prom # 2 and a cheeky grin spreads across my face as I think about a person I know who’ll almost certainly be dismissing this evening’s concert on the grounds it’s not “serious” enough.

To deny any composer the opportunity to have their creations heard from the platform at the Royal Albert Hall is a crime.

So, ladies and gentlemen, sit back and listen to such classic film music as the march from Bridge On The River Kwai, John William’s Harry’s Wondrous World from Harry Potter and, something I’m really looking forward to, a medley of Carry On music. It’s high time the music from the Carry On films got the Proms stamp of approval.

Prom Review: Prom #1

Chorus from Prom #1 2007

For all the excitement I lapped up hanging around the promming queue outside the Royal Albert Hall yesterday afternoon in the sunshine, the first half of the first Prom didn’t quite sate me in the way I had expected. On radio Paul Watkins performance seemed tidy and mellow. The same performance on TV revealed to what extent he was doing battle with the heat inside the hall. At various points it was clear that his sweaty fingers were causing him some difficulty with the finger board.

Hearing Beethoven’s ninth symphony reminded me that the composer does tend to re-emphasise his musical point a little too much for my liking. Not only that, I was also reminded about how things seem to chop and change quite a lot in the last movement. First one musical idea, then another, then another, shifting gears in unexpected ways.

Having said that, mix we heard on TV (Simon asks that I emphasise the screen is 37 inches not 32 inches as I illustrated in the most recent video) was extremely dry making the overall performance incredibly tight and dramatic. The last movement in particular was a real joy featuring a spirited performance from Rene Pape (bass) and a jaw-dropping contribution from the Philharmonia Chorus and BBC Symphony Chorus, all members of which stood singing without their music in their hands.

And in case you’re thinking, “Pah! You didn’t go to the Hall and listen to it?” bear in mind that us lot at home got to see a clip of the Venezualan orchestra appearing later on in the Proms season so I am, in fact, feeling quite smug I saw it at home. I’m sure I’ll get along next week though.

Most important of all, however, is that what I had thought was an interesting “angle” on all of last night’s music (included in the Preview to #1), did turn out to be absolute bollocks. 🙂 *

Listen Again to Prom # 1 (available until Friday 20 July 2007)

* Many thanks to David England.

Tonight’s Prom: Prom # 1

Programme:
William Walton: Portsmouth Point Overture
Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto
Beethoven: Symphony No.9

LISTEN LIVE @ 7.30pm BST

Given that it’s the opening night of the 2007 season of the BBC Proms (don’t tell me this comes as a surprise, I’ve been banging on about it for ages), it should come as no surprise that tonight’s concert of British and German music is all-inclusive. Nothing difficult to grapple with here.

The first half features music from British composers William Walton and Edward Elgar, both now dead (obviously) but whose works epitomise what some consider are stereotypical images of Britain.

Walton’s Portsmouth Point Overture may be unfamiliar to some but just like one of his more popular works Crown Imperial, it manages to conjure up an evocative image of post-war 1950s hope and positive despite the country suffering the grip of austerity.

Similarly, Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto transports me, at least, to an idyllic scene of rolling countryside, cups of tea and cucumber sandwiches. It’s an incredibly powerful association but one which leads me to wonder whether those who are not familiar with this country may possibly have a difficult image in their head when they hear it.

Long as the second half might at first appear – at 70 minutes, Beethoven’s Symphony # 9 is quite a hefty work so if you’re listening at home make sure you get the refreshments prepared to keep you going.

If the Elgar and the Walton conjure up different images of Britain then Beethoven’s Symphony # 9 (known as “The Choral” because of its use of voices in the final movement) evokes an idealistic view of an harmonious Europe. This is probably to do with the adoption of the main theme (known as “The Ode to Joy”) as an unofficial (?) anthem for the European Union.

In the Beethoven make sure you listen out for the solo clarinet line in the slow movement. It’s gorgeous to hear and even more gorgeous to play. I know. I’ve played it myself.

Listen out too for the audience cheers in this concert. The concert goes out live on Radio 3 and can be listened to via the BBC’s spangly Radio Player thingy (and as a catch up service up to seven days after the original broadcast) or using that antiquated wireless thing.

If you listen to it, leave your comments on what you’ve heard on this posting.

I’m getting ridiculously excited

Conscious as I am of how my tragic exploits bringing the world of the BBC Proms to your attention may possibly have failed, I offer up some of the more considered items for your listening pleasure. Tonight from 7.00pm on BBC Radio 3 you can get a terribly helpful preview of some of the highlights of the season in a programme hosted by the marvellous Petroc Trelawney.

Some of the music might be unknown to you, some utterly bizarre, some quite familiar. What your feeling, give it a listen either on the radio from 7.00pm BST on Thursday 12 July. You can listen online by using the BBC Radio Player. If you miss the show you can catchup using the player up to seven days later.

There’ll be a regular thing on this blog because, as all obsessives will appreciate, such large scale events as this are perfect material for bloggers such as myself.

And just to exploit the self-promotion opportunity I have here, the latest Thoroughly Good Proms video is out for your careful consideration, featuring an appearance from one dedicated Yahoo 360er type person.