Saturday, August 08, 2009

My ear drums were raped and abused

'This specific event was listed in the Proms Guide in the "Big Orchestral Sound" genre. The website even included a snippet of Eroica. I was completely appalled and in absolute angst for the first 30 minutes of this concert to the point where my husband and I left after just 40 minutes. While the orchestra was extremely talented, the runner up repertoire to Beethoven, unfortunately, was not. I expected the runner up music to at least be a par with Eroica. To my complete dissappointment (sic), I sat in a half full Albert Hall, during those first 40 minutes listening to what I would call a pile up car crash on the M40 played over and over. My ear drums were raped and abused and I am contacting the BBC to retrieve my money back from the other concerts I have booked as whoever wrote the website copy guide was clearly misleading'.
The listener reviews on the BBC Proms website tell us about more than the music. This one was for Michael Jarrell's Sillages on August 3rd. Here is the case for contemporary music.

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8 comments:

Pliable said...

Here is the Guardian review of the same concert -

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/aug/05/bbcso-fischer-prom-25-review

Adam Solomon said...

I believe we had this conversation a while ago on the blog; I haven't heard the Jarrell (and I can't seem to find any samples), but that listener's reaction seems pretty similar to what I felt after enduring Penderecki's Cello Concerto between Brandenburg 6 and Beethoven's 5th :)

Even putting aside my personal intolerance for most of the dominant musical streams of the 20th century (and the philosophies underlying them), I think we can at least recognize that we're dealing with some very separate audiences. Yes, much of the crowd that enjoys some modern Concerto for Nails on Chalkboard or what have you is likely to enjoy some Beethoven as well - but the reverse does not hold for the majority of concertgoers to see Beethoven. So why the insistence on programming such disparate music together?

Pliable said...

Adam, because counterpoint, both in composition and programmes, was around long before the 20th, yet alone 21st century -

Before the year 1900 well over a hundred works had received their first London performance at the Proms. The total (as of 1944 when this was written), incidentally, now stands at between eight hundred and nine hundred, of which approximately one-third have been by British composers.

The first consideration was, in the beginning as it is now, to present all that is great in the world of orchestral music, whether new or old, classical or modern; and a particular style of concert was thus established from the start. Artist and composer alike have benefitted incalculably as a result.


http://www.overgrownpath.com/2009/07/not-to-build-on-virtuoso-basis.html

Adam Solomon said...

Granted, I'm speaking in general, and not about the Proms :) I didn't know that was its stated goal.

Still, though, counterpoint in programming is fine, but what do we take that to mean? The ___ Philharmonic will play music from the baroque era to present? Medieval to romantic? Throw in some rock too? I rather liked the String Quartet Tribute to the Red Hot Chili Peppers ;)

The question at the base of this is: what links one era of music to another under the umbrella of "classical" or "orchestral"* music? Can I consider Bach and Cage to be a part of that same tradition? Why - because they both use roughly the same class of instruments?

I might even suggest that there is no particularly meaningful link between a good segment of 20th/21st century music and the "classical" music before it - and the decision to program them together is somewhat ad hoc. Does that make me crazy (or just wrong)? :)

*Though not everything uses an orchestra, of course.

Pliable said...

In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent - Wikipedia.

The definition of 'harmonically interdependent' will be a judgement call. For some Bach and Lutoslawski, or Jarrell and Beethoven, are harmonically interdependent. For others they are not.

Last night's Prom combined Lutoslawski's scintillating Concerto for Orchestra with Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto and Respighi Roman Festivals.

Harmonic interdependence? Or a combination of works that a playing time of 89 minutes to fit the required 90 minute broadcast window?

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2006/08/bbc-proms-music-and-mathematics.html

gingerfield said...

she got to hear a full symphony blasting out Eroica at the Albert Hall for a tenner and she wants her money back? all the more argument for the BBC to live up to it's first 'B' and stage some of the 100+ proms concerts here in the provinces where we'll appreciate them!

Pliable said...

Gingerfield, your point about the London-centric attitude of the BBC is very well made indeed.

As far as BBC Radio 3 (and BBC 4 TV) is concerned right now, the Proms are the only show in town, and London is the only town in the UK.

Pliable said...

Yes, I know about the Proms in the Park.

But I am afraid in my book they are not Proms. They are just the BBC exploiting the brand name of the Proms.