Sunday, July 13, 2008

BBC Proms - lost in promotion


'I love the Proms because it (sic) embodies classical music ... In classical music you are not supposed to say 'groove', but groove is the rhythmic propulsion which is our spirit and soul – if you ask me, classical performers need to find their groove all over again' says Kristjan Järvi in his article in today's Independent in which he tells us what is wrong with classical music en route to promoting his forthcoming Prom appearance.

Well-meaning the piece may be, but a lot gets lost in promotion. Järvi's Absolute Ensemble gets a mention, but the musical excitement generated by this funky chamber orchestra meets jazz enesemble meets world music group doesn't. Prom 30 on August 8 gets a mention as do Järvi's own ensembles, the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra and Absolute Ensemble. But there is no mention that it is neither band that Järvi is conducting at the Prom, it is the equally excellent, but presumably not as groovy sounding, BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Bernstein's Three Meditations, which are in his Proms programme, are mentioned. But not that they come from the composer's Mass, A Theatre Piece for Singers, Player and Dancers, one of the grooviest pieces of twentieth-century music ever written. (Now a complete Mass would be a Prom to die for). John Adams' and Michael Torke's equally groovy contribution to Järvi's programme are also overlooked as is the fact that his invigorating concert of contemporary music is relegated to the BBC Radio 3 late-night groovy ghetto.

The problem is that Järvi's article, which is long on street-cred mentions of Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams and short on facts, comes across as a classical musician desperately trying to be groovy. And there is nothing less groovy than that.

No promotion needed for Järvi senior's music making which was so beautifully captured by BIS in vinyl gooves.
Header photo (c) On An Overgrown Path 2008. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

5 comments:

beetheaven said...

I saw Kristjan Järvi conduct the London Symphony Orchestra last year and was mesmerized by his performance of John Adams' Harmonielehre. Having seen him in performance I really understand what he means when he says "Groove."

In the article in the "Independent" Järvi defines Groove as a "rhythmic propulsion"- nothing to do with being Groovy. I agree with "Pliable" that there is nothing more tragic than a classical musician trying to be groovy, but there is a big difference between "Groove" and "Groov-Y", and Järvi was talking about trying to get musicians to feel the "Groove" in classical music- not be groovy!

Järvi mentioned Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams to highlight how it changes the mood of a concert when the musicians connect with the audience, rather than ignoring them as in most classical concerts.

Kristjan Järvi is among the best classical performers and entertainers I have ever seen, and I will definitely be at his next Prom- Groove Ghetto time slot or not.

Pliable said...

Thanks for dropping by and leaving your view Beetheaven.

It's probably just me but I always wonder when an anonymous user profile is specifically created to post a comment like this.

'Kristjan Järvi is among the best classical performers and entertainers I have ever seen ...' - nothing lost in promotion there.

http://www.blogger.com/profile/06461321650410625926

Pliable said...

Elliott Carter lost in promotion?

http://www.davethehat.com/dh/component/option,com_mojo/Itemid,44/p,23/

Pliable said...

There is four minutes of Elliott Carter at this Friday's BBC Prom -

http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/2008/whatson/1807.shtml

Halldor said...

Pliable, a litle late, I know, but I can't believe you let this slip through the net!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/aug/03/classical-concerts-fresh-air