Pärt, Perotin and Plainchant pre-eminent at Proms

After all the Gustavo Dudamel controversy last week it is back to business as normal for the BBC Proms next week. Concerts by Sir Colin Davis don't need to be talked up by the media. Fellow blogger David Read says it all in his story Sir Colin versus charisma. Friday 19th September is a 'classic' Davis programme, Tippett Symphony No 4 and Beethoven Eroica, cherish it.

It is also good to welcome antipodean visitors, listen out for Douglas Lilburn's 1961 Symphony No 3 on Thursday 18th played by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He is a very underrated composer who deserves a wider audience.

The new music feast continues. Highlight is the world premiere of Marc-Andre Dalbavie's Piano Concerto played by Leif Ove Andsnes. This is a BBC co-commission with the Cleveland and Chicago orchestras, so we should be hearing a lot more of it.

This Proms season has been a pretty lean one for early music. But Wednesday 17th August brings a late night (22.00h BST start) concert with Paul Hillier directing the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (see photo) in music by Perotin (see Raindrops are falling on my chant) and Arvo Pärt. This should be a real delight as it the main works are interspersed with medieval French and English motets and monody, it gets my vote for the Prom of the week.

Mainstream Highlights:
Mahler, Symphony No 1; Daniel Barenboim conducts bridge building West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Sunday 14th August, 18.30h
Tchaikovsky, Iolantha (concert performance); Vassily Sinaisky conducts rare performace of composer’s final, fairy-tale opera. Monday 15th August, 19.30h
Lilburn, Symphony No 3; James Judd conducts New Zealand Symphony in work by their compatriot. Thursday 18th August, 1930h
Tippett, Symphony No 4; Sir Colin Davis conducts, followed by Beethoven – unmissable. Friday 19th August, 19.00h

New Music:
Komarova, Tanze mit verbudenen Augen
; lunchtime world premiere of solo piano work. Monday 15th August, 13.00h
Dalbavie, Piano Concerto; world premiere played by Leif Ove Andsnes. Tuesday 16th August, 19.30h
Berg, Lulu Suite
;Christine Schafer sings the seductivr heroine. Wednesday 17th August, 19.00h
MacRae, Hamartia
(Cello concerto); London premiere played by Li-Wei, Friday 19th August, 22.00h

Early music:
Perotin and plainchant; late night concert with Paul Hillier directing Estonian Chamber Choir. Plus Arvo Part. A high-spot in a pretty thin Proms season for early music. Wednesday 17th August, 22.00h

All the concerts above are being broadcast live by BBC Radio 3, and are available as live web casts. Many of them are also available for seven days after broadcast on the BBC Listen Again service but some aren’t. Check BBC listings for which are available via ‘listen again’ but as a rule of thumb high profile orchestras and artists are usually too expensive for the BBC to buy repeat broadcast rights.

This is a personal, and fallible, selection of the week's concerts. The full weeks programmes are available through this link. Concerts start dates are given in British Summer Time using 24 hour clock (19.00h = 7.00pm) Convert these timings to your local time zone using this link

The Guardian are reviewing every Prom this season. Access their reviews via this link.

This preview of the following week's Proms appears every week on an overgrown path. If you want to share an upcoming concert with a friend email the post to them using the envelope icon at the foot of the post.

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Anonymous said…
Stupid American question - Why are they called “Proms”? In America, as I’m sure you know, “Proms” are dances in High School. I know that Prom is short for promontory, which according to Dictionary.com means:

A high ridge of land or rock jutting out into a body of water; a headland.
Anatomy. A projecting part.

So, I’m a little confused. Is it just something that “is” and nobody knows why it’s called what it is?
Pliable said…
Not a stupid question at all. The venue for the concerts is the Albert Hall in London. This is an oval shaped auditorium which has a large flat floor space in front of the platform. There are no seats in this area, the audience stands. This is the 'promenade'- from the French promener to walk. There are no tickets for this area, you can only get in by queuing on the day of the concert. Admission is a ridiculously cheap £4 ($7US), which allows you to stand within feet of top-class orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic. There is additional standing room at the top of the auditorium. The total capacity for the two promenade areas is 1400 people.

There is a very strong tradition of promenading. At the last night each year the promenaders place a laurel wreath on a bust of Sir Henry Wood, the founder of the concerts. Promenading is not for the faint hearted. The arena can get very hot and airless, and standing in close proximity to 1400 other music lovers for the duration of one of the Ring operas can be as much a test of endurance as a musical event. Many, many years ago I was at a televised Prom with Carmina Burana conducted by Andre Previn. The TV lights created so much heat that the baritone soloist passed out, and had to be carried off the stage!
Anonymous said…
If America weren't so anti-French denizens thereof might know that proms was short for promenades. Back in the States, there are still pops concerts, which are sometimes indoors and sometimes outdoors. The British proms actually require a pretty high level of musical sophistication of its listeners,unlike most American pops concerts which tend to be revenue generators and time fillers for unionized American orchestral musicians with full calendar schedules to be filled. Once American pops concerts were pretty sophisticated and classy affairs but those days are generally long gone. I think New York needs a Proms concept to make the long hot summer months more bearable and meaningful.
Anonymous said…
The baritone who collapsed from heat exhaustion was Thomas Allen. He had faltered once or twice before collapsing. Shortly after he was carried off stage and stranger appeared on the platform and sang what was left of the baritone's part.
He was an amateur singer who had taken part in an amateur production of the same work a copuple of weeks earlier.

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