Wednesday, August 02, 2006

BBC Proms - drumming up new music

Follow this link to read On An Overgrown Path's response to Norman Lebrecht

Core repertoire such as Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, Brahms’ Fourth and Schubert's Ninth symphonies, and core orchestras such as the BBC Scottish, City of Birmingham and BBC Philharmonic have provided the BBC Proms highlights so far this year. The trend looks likely to continue this week as the BBC Scottish return with their outstanding young Israel born conductor, Ilan Volkov, to give us Schumann’s Rhenish Symphony on Wednesday 9 August. Quite shamefully this is one of just two Schumann symphonies at the Proms in the 150th anniversary year of the composer’s death.

Anniversaries remain a preoccupation in other concerts. On Monday 7 August there is more celebrating when another man in the news, Robert King, conducts Masses of Mozart thankfully tempered by Michael Haydn’s underrated Requiem. At least an organ recital by David Goode at 4.00pm on Sunday 6 August showcases some more obscure anniversaries including Gliere (died 1956), and Glazunov (died 1936), as well as some badly needed Bach (Chorale Prelude on ‘Dies sind die heil’gen zehn Gebot’, BWV 678). And the late night Prom on Thursday 10 August marks the 70th birthday of Steve Reich (photo above) with much nocturnal drumming and baseball caps.

These days the BBC doesn’t even need the excuse of an anniversary to pile on the John Adams, and the concert on Friday 11 August is 100% Adams with the man himself doing the conducting. John Adams’ works have had a bit of a torrid time at the Proms. The first scheduled performance of Short Ride in a Fast Machine was cancelled due to the death of Princess Diana in a high-speed car crash in Paris, and the next attempt to perform it was canned as September 11 intervened. In the light of the present terrible events in the Middle East I wonder how The Wound-Dresser will fare?

Thankfully no media personalities, anniversaries or jet-set orchestras in my highlight Prom this week. On Tuesday 8 August the BBC Philharmonic (who were on absolutely cracking form in Schubert's Great C Major on Sunday) under Yan Pascal Tortelier bring us a seminal composition from the 1960s, Henri Dutilleux’s M├ętaboles. And the concluding work in that concert, Albert Roussel’s sensuous and grossly underrated Third Symphony which was premiered in 1930 by Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony, will come as a welcome counterbalance to all the current Shostakovich introspection and Mozart nuances.

Proms highlights:
Sunday 6 August 4.00pm - Gliere, Galzunov, J.S. Bach, Georg Bohm, organ recital by David Goode
Monday 7 August – M. Haydn Requiem, The King’s Consort and Choir conducted by Robert King
Tuesday 8 August – Dutilleux M├ętaboles, Roussel Symphony No 3, BBC philharmonic conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier
Wednesday 9 August – Jonathan Harvey .. towards a pure land London premiere, Schumann Symphony No 3 ‘Rhenish’, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conductor Ilan Volkov.
Thursday 10 August 10.15pm - Steve Reich clapping and drumming.

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2 comments:

Garth Trinkl said...

pliable, thank you very much for assembling this weekly London Proms new music (and old music) highlights guide. I was fascinated to see you highlighting the young Israel born conductor, Ilan Volkov, who will be leading the BBC Scottish Symphony on August 9 -- in a program of Harvey and Schumann.

Here in Washington, we will share a small and belated taste of the London Prom's excitment when Ilan Volkov debuts with the National Symphony Orchestra on September 28-30 in a program consisting of the American premiere of the Jonathan Harvey work, as well as the Rach. #4 and Beethoven #3. It is the one concert of the upcoming season that I am most looking forward to attending due to the introduction of a young conducting talent and a major new work by a leading British/Continental composer.

*

On another matter, do you happen to know what city is on the cover of the CD of the LSO under Kurt Masur performing Britten's War Requiem that is the topic of non-discussion over at Sequenza21? My guess is that it might be the cleared Potsdammer Platz near Central Berlin in about 1948, a site which in the 1930s was reported to be the most busy traffic intersection in Europe. However, I can't make out the Brandenburg Gate area on the far left. If this is correct, do you think that it was intentional that the the LSO producers chose an archival photo of the current site of Peter Eisenmann's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe?

Can you find the link to your picture of the site today, which you photographed?

Thanks.

Pliable said...

Garth, 10/10 for your powers of recognition.

Go to photographer Joe Dilworth's website and click through the Berlin images - yep, it's Potsdamer Platz 1990.

My guess is that the symbolism is that this was the meeting point between the Russian, German and English zones of Berlin, representing the soloists in the War Requiem. But what is the star that has obviously been imposed in the foreground of the cover image? I assume it is a Soviet star, but why? Symbolising the missing Russian soloist at the premiere (Vishnevskya), or is the explanation more prosaic, a device to fill a muddy spot of Berlin waste ground?