BBC Proms 2015: Prom 22 – Pastoral Symphony / Brett Dean / Aurora Orchestra

Brett Dean’s Pastoral Symphony – the London premiere of the work – was an expansive soundscape combining live orchestra and recorded sound effects. This immersive three dimensional work was an intriguing listen, made more thought provoking by his programme note:

Sure, we all ‘love’ nature, ut what we love more are all the trappings of modern living .. certainly more than the desire to stop and bask in the glory of a single butcherbird, perhaps the most magical sound found on the whole Australian continent.

Dean is a consistently reliable composer, delivering interesting, fun and entertaining works, and on this particular afternoon succeeded in captivating a great many children in the audience. Loud driving rhythms contrasted with moments of stark beauty in a vast expanse interspersed with sounds of nature from a far-away land.

Not for the first time Dean’s music has really entertained me. This work, unlike his Electric Prelude and Vexations and Devotions, wasn’t listened to whilst eating a hard boiled egg salad.

Prom 13: Vexations and Devotions

Thoroughly Good food during Prom 13

One special night tonight, live from the Royal Albert Hall. *

Ooh .. I thought. I see the words “commission” and “premiere”. Those are the words which are, shamefully, irresistable. I imagine the possibility of actually going to the Royal Albert Hall to listen to a premiere and mingle with the great and the good during the interval with a gin and tonic, etc. If, indeed, the great and the good go to listen to Proms premieres. (Do they? I don’t know.)

The reality was somewhat different. I stood in the lounge watching TV and ironing shirts when I thought it would be really nice to sit and listen to Brett Dean’s Vexations and Devotions tonight.

Simon seemed easily persuaded. So we did (eventually) sit and listen to it as near to live as we possibly could. **

Really loved the movement with the soundtrack of the automated phone system. Really enjoyed that. The rest was really good too, just the most memorable one right now is the phone “one”.

Smashing short story about “Mr Onion” during the interval too. Really enjoyed that too. Didn’t expect to.

Didn’t stick around for the Beethoven Symphony in the second half. Somehow the prospect of Beethoven after that seemed a little dull and lifeless in comparison. Sorry to those in the BBC Symphony Orchestra who ploughed their way through it. I’m sure you were very good.

* Tonight’s live broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall was live as delivered to our Sky box but owing to the preparation of the smashing egg and bacon salad and a telephone conversation I was having with my mum at the same time, I reckoned it was best to start recording the concert and then start listening ten minutes later. So, it was kind of “live” tonight.

** See above (the bit with the one asterisk).