Friday, October 11, 2013
Let's make 2014 a Max Last Night of the Proms
In his recent Royal Philharmonic Society lecture BBC Radio 3 controller and Proms director Roger Wright expressed the view that "the mundane programme is our enemy". This is an admirable sentiment, so today I am offering the Proms director some gratuitous advice on how to outwit the enemy in next year's Proms season. Hopefully the current misguided obsession with composer anniversaries should be self-correcting as 2014 is a lean year with Richard Strauss (1864-1949) being the only bankable birthday boy or girl; surely wall to wall Strauss tone poems is a step too far even for Radio 3? But my recent analysis of Google Trends did show that lesser-known composers respond to anniversary promotion. So my 2014 fantasy BBC Proms season would include all four of the life-affirming symphonies of Albéric Magnard (1865-1914) and, following on from the success of this year's Wagner Proms, a complete cycle of the six operas of Harrison Birtwistle (b 1934). Don't panic - or rather do Panic - Harry's operas don't last for four hours so they will not fill eleven concerts.
But I would save the best for last. Next year the Last Night of the Proms should fall on Saturday Sept 6 and Peter Maxwell Davies is eighty on Sept 8 2014. So I would present an all Maxwell Davies last night with his Albert Hall emptying Second Symphony in the first half to clear out the Union Jack waving Hoorah Henrys and Henriettas. For those who stay the course there would be a second half of Max bon bons including his Orkney Wedding with Sunrise and sublime Farewell to Stromness in its 2005 orchestration for string orchestra. Oh yes indeed - the mundane programme is our enemy. So let's make 2014 the year we swapped mundane musicals for Magnard, Max and the Minotaur.
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