Ok, Proms 2018 were announced at 7am. Let see what we god (spoiler: MEH) Prom 1: First Night of the Proms BBCSO with Oramo doing… The Planets???? Seriously???? One more time? Damn. So British. Of course also some RVW and a new work by a british female composer. All the cliches to be politically correct. Prom 2: Mozart, Ravel and Fauré RPO with Francesco Piemontesi conducted by Alain Altinoglu. This is nice because we got the full Daphnis and Chloe with the full chorus singing MMMmmmMmmMm.
I was successful in the Last Night of the Proms Five-Concert Ballot so I attended the most wanted concert in Britain. Of course expectations were high but keeping in mind the kind of party-concert it was supposed to be. The work the BBC commissioned to Lotta Wennäkoski was a interesting start for the night. Much more interesting Kodály’s Budavári Te Deum. I always wonder why Kodály music is not more frequent in western countries concerts.
Second night of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras in this year Proms. This time, totally Viennese repertoire. Concert opened with Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn that BBC called “Variations on the St Anthony Chorale” because they are very smart and follow all the musicological criteria, not that they are snobs, not at all. Perfect performance, with a superb Michael Tilson Thomas emphasizing the more expressive and joyful parts of the score as a perfect introduction for it was coming next.
After the somehow disappointing version of Mahler’s 4th by Gatti and RCO the Viennese came to proof which is the best European orchestra. They didn’t include any other work in the programme, just Mahler’s 6th. Harding arrived London after conducting this very same symphony twice with two different orchestras in the previous week. That is crazy and really difficult to do. On his side was the fact that the two previous ones, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre de Paris, are his orchestras and the VPO is… well, easy to guide for a Mahler.
All Russian composers, except for the Britten but all Russian themed works. Beforehand it was a very interesting programme with new (as newly heard) works, works of stunning beauty, not-so-frequent-works and spectacular works that are better listened live. It started with Stravinsky’s Funeral Song, one work just rediscovered and “premiered” less than one year ago in Russia. It was a very nice work, less stravinskian than expected and maybe too academic but full of great ideas.
Typical structure of fucking-scaring-new-work + not-so-easy-repertoire + classical-easy-hit. But the fucking-scaring-new-work, Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres), as expected from an enfant terrible as Missy Mazzoli with her PJ Harvey look, was not scaring at all. Actually was much more conservative and traditional than expected. It was also nice full of very interesting composition ideas. Only downside, as many contemporary composers, Mazzoli was trying to do a full showcase of all her composing abilities, stealing from the work some coherence and narrative speech.
This review is going to be full of rants. So let me enumerate them: 1: Best orchestra in the world According to British musical press Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is the best orchestra in the world. Yeah, I known that the panel for such ranking was international… but it was selected by a British medium. WTF. Because maybe choosing Berlin Philharmonic or Vienna Philharmonic or even Chigago SO was too mainstream they decided that the best one was the RCO.
First the rant: BBC titling this concert as “Renée Fleming sings Strauss” was a stupid marketing trick. Trick because Fleming was singing more Barber than Strauss and stupid because everyone knew it. People could though “oh, she is singing the Last Four Lieder” while looking at the Proms listing but no more. Beside that, the programme was quite interesting: Oramo’s other orchestra, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra playing a vocal work by Barber that Fleeming included on her last album, some not so frequent Strauss operatic scene and Nielsen’s 2nd symphony.
Glyndebourne’s La clemenza di Tito arrived to Proms in a semi-stage version. I’m not commenting about the stage because it won’t be fair. Maybe next year a rich boyfriend brings me to Glyndebourne to see these opera productions at their full. Let’s then focus on the musical part. Mozart masterpiece allows many different approaches. Young conductor Robin Ticciati presented a bright version of the it: luminosity over darkness, and it worked well.
Two concerts in one: * Saint‐Saëns 2nd piano concerto * Elgar-Payne 3rd symphony because these works have nothing to do and it’s quite difficult to find a narrative link between them to be in the same programme. And two disclaimers: * Above Perianes’s picture is not from the concert itself but from a previous one * I took too long to write this review again because of… whatever 2 disclaimers, 2 concerts, 2nd piano concert… so let’s say there was a 3rd work completing the programme with Elgar 3rd symphony.
Debut in the Proms of Filarmonica della Scala orchestra. What? First time of Scala orchestra in London? No and yes. The trick is that in 1982 Claudio Abbado created a new orchestra formed with members of Teatro alla Scala orchestra to focus on symphonic repertoire. And we got the best of these two faces of the orchestra: an opera orchestra who follows the singers and a full symphonic orchestra telling the full story.
It took me longer than expected to write the review about last Saturday performance of Gurrelieder by London Symphony Orchestra conducted by its new principal conductor Simon Rattle. I had to think about it. Not only the performance but also the work, its meaning and its implications. Let’s go first with the actual performance of it. The orchestra playing was brutally brilliant: technical perfection and supreme discipline following Mr. Rattle indications.
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