Saturday, August 18, 2007

Doctor Atomic explodes as BBC Proms excel


Here are Pliable's personal picks for the coming week's BBC Proms. All Proms are available for seven days online, detailed programmes and broadcast times for every concert are available from the BBC web site.

* August 20, 7.30pm - Thomas Adès' Powder Her Face - Suite, London premiere, plus Bartók's Duke Bluebeard's Castle in a complete performance. Christoph von Dohnányi conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra
* August 21, 7.30pm - World premiere of John Adams' Doctor Atomic Symphony which is a BBC joint commission, plus his Century Rolls. The composer conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and Olli Mustonen rolls in the opening work.
* August 22, 7.30pm - Mahler Symphony No. 3 with Claudio Abbado and Lucerne Festival Orchestra
* August 23, 7.30pm - Handel, Purcell and Telemann played by the combined Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, plus the divine Kate Royal.

* August 24, 7.00pm - my prediction for one of the Proms of the season, Bernard Haitink conducts Bruckner's Symphony No. 8. And how good it is to see Haitink back with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. One of my more bizarre Proms memories was in 1975, I think, hearing Zubin Mehta with the touring Los Angeles Philharmonic perform Brucker 8 at a Prom, and then immediately travelling to Amsterdam to hear Haitink conduct Bruckner 9 the following evening with the, then, Concertgebouw Orchestra in the ravishing acoustics of their own hall. Haitink followed the 'unfinished' Bruckner 9 with the composer's Te Deum, a practice which seems to have fallen out of favour. At around the same time I also attended Colin Davis' Ring Cycle at Covent Garden before being sidelined by a nasty attack of glandular fever. Oh to be young and foolish again.
* August 25, 6.30pm - my last choice from an outstanding week's Proms features Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra again. (I can't get used to typing that 'Royal'). Orchestral excerpts from Parsifal and Tristan will confirm that youth is not a time of life but a state of mind.

Nicholas Kenyon has, quite justifiably, taken a lot of stick here about this year's Proms season. No stick this week though. If I still lived in London I would be at every one of the concerts above. Now read the back story on Doctor Atomic.

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