All 2019 Prom Reviews

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Proms in the Park – London leg, Hyde Park – hosted by Michael Ball and including Barry Manilow and Aida Garifullina
Saturday, September 14, 2019 |  In September 2007 I asked how Proms in the Park fitted the strap-line of “The World’s greatest classical music festival”; twelve years later that connection, tenuous at the time, has been broken. This was nevertheless a fabulous concert packed with stars from the world of popular music and stage-shows that rocked the sun-drenched corner of Hyde Park for about seven hours hosted by Michael Ball, who also took his turn as a performer – most notably, and excellently, singing Stars from Les Misérables accompanied at the piano by the composer, Claude-Michel Schönberg. ... There was never any doubt that the global superstar that is Barry Manilow would ever be anything but the main attraction. 
Prom 75: Sakari Oramo conducts The Last Night of the Proms, with Jamie Barton, BBC Singers, Symphony Chorus & Symphony Orchestra
Saturday, September 14, 2019 |  And so to the Last Night of the Proms. From one of the best new commissions as an opener, via a surprising wordless paean to democracy and a vocal soloist who nailed bisexual politics to the mast in her final outfit, this year’s repertoire seemed quietly seditious. But the musical choices were more satisfying than usual, especially in the first half. There was a nod to Sir Henry Wood’s 150th-birthday, music he introduced, here Elgar’s heartfelt Sospiri acting as the fulcrum of the first half, first heard on the eve of the First World War. 
Prom 74: Beethoven Night – NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover conducted by Andrew Manze, with Elizabeth Watts – Fidelio, Ah! Perfido & Symphony 5 ... Handel Fireworks, Bach/Elgar
Friday, September 13, 2019 |  The requisitioning of a Friday slot to serve as Beethoven Night is authentic. Less so Andrew Manze’s conducting. ... Elizabeth Watts was the excellent soloist on either side of the interval. The stock showpiece gestures of Ah! Perfido were never likely to quell the bronchial tendencies of a restless capacity crowd... ... For me at least the highlight came earlier with Elgar’s Bach transmogrification, the arranger’s signature gloriously obvious... 
Prom 73: Symphonie fantastique/orchestral theatre staging – Baynton/Aurora/Collon [2/2]
Thursday, September 12, 2019 |  A bare stage – save for percussion on the top riser (with six covered mystery items), a couple of harps stage-right and risers with chairs obviously for cellos and basses – was the unlikely start to this reprise Prom of the one that had gone immediately before. Nicholas Collon entered alone to set the scene, introducing actor Mathew Baynton and, by reading Hiller’s description of the composer in question, metamorphosed the actor into Berlioz. Baynton then quickly reprised what happened exactly 192 years and a day ago (11 September 1827) when Berlioz first saw Harriet Smithson... 
Prom 72: Symphonie fantastique/orchestral theatre staging – Baynton/Aurora/Collon [1/2]
Thursday, September 12, 2019 |  When did you last see a symphony orchestra playing from memory and wearing sinister masks? This specially devised and family-friendly presentation vividly brought to life Berlioz’s ground-breaking Symphonie fantastique. Its preliminary ‘Ant & Dec’-style preamble, shared between Nicholas Collon and Mathew Baynton, outlined in the composer’s own words the stimulus behind the work... 
Prom 71: Bach Night – Dunedin Consort & John Butt – J. S. Bach’s Four Orchestral Suites (BWV1066-1069) and four commissions: Muhly, Wishart, Robertson, MacRae
Wednesday, September 11, 2019 |  I must confess to still enjoying recordings of Bach’s orchestral music recorded decades ago, such as by Boyd Neel (with piano!) and Britten of the Brandenburg Concertos. I was therefore somewhat surprised to read in the Proms programme the following: “The revolution of the past 50 years in the performance of Baroque music means that modern audiences prefer their Bach sleeker and more dynamic played on instruments that approximate those of the first half of the 18th century – a practice in which John Butt and his Dunedin Consort are firmly at the forefront.” 
Prom 70: Jonny Greenwood, premiere of Horror vacui
Tuesday, September 10, 2019 |  There has been something of a nostalgic throwback this week to contemporary music concerts of yesteryear, always overrunning with stage-changes and the unpredictability of how long new works are. Fifteen minutes beyond schedule for PCM8 (a Tribute to Oliver Knussen) and now thirty for this current Prom. In the event only a few of the audience (including a notably packed Arena) felt they could tear themselves away as the clock ticked towards midnight. ... Greenwood’s Penderecki-inspired Horror vacui (the fear of empty space) follows his Polish hero’s move from electronics to being able to make similar sounds and effects live with stringed instruments. ... At points I was reminded of Symphony of Sorrowful Songs and The Protecting Veil. 
Prom 69: Czech Philharmonic – Semyon Bychkov conducts The Bartered Bride & Shostakovich 8 – Elena Stikhina sings Tatiana’s Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin
Tuesday, September 10, 2019 |  Joining the end-of-Proms beauty parade of visiting orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic and its Chief Conductor of barely one year, Semyon Bychkov, arrived not so much as an international brand as a bottomless well of instantly discernible national character... ... In terms of anticipating mischief and sharp wit, Smetana’s Overture to The Bartered Bride is up there with Mozart’s for The Marriage of Figaro... ... However, there were quite a few opera-movers and -shakers in evidence for the UK debut of Elena Stikhina, and I hope they were pinching themselves over what they heard. Perhaps Tatiana’s teenage crush on Onegin was a bit of a suspension of disbelief for a singer-actress who has been singing major Wagner, Verdi and Puccini... ... Shostakovich 8 derives its shape from the crudest of means... 
Prom 68: Wagner Night – Marc Albrecht conducts the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Christine Goerke & Stephen Gould
Monday, September 09, 2019 |  This was the first of three concerts in this the final week of Proms 2019 which hark back to Henry Wood’s inclination to feature programmes devoted to one composer. Wagner was first off (Bach and Beethoven will follow) though with rewarding diversions to one of the originators of German Romantic opera, as then to a composer beyond Germany who was inspired by Wagner’s great advances in musical technique and expression. 
Proms at … Cadogan Hall/Proms Chamber Music 8: Tribute to Oliver Knussen | Knussen Chamber Orchestra conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth
Monday, September 09, 2019 |  The final stop in this year’s Proms Chamber Music 800-year journey brought us right up to date and featured the newest ensemble in the roster: the Knussen Chamber Orchestra, founded by Ryan Wigglesworth who followed the late Oliver Knussen as Sir Richard Rodney Bennett Professor at the Royal Academy of Music. 
Prom 67: BBC Symphony Orchestra – Sakari Oramo conducts Night on Bare Mountain, Forest, and Sibelius 5 – Nora Fischer gives the UK premiere of Louis Andriessen’s The Only One
Sunday, September 08, 2019 |  Sakari Oramo has pursued a typically varied repertoire over his appearances at this season’s Proms, and this one was no exception in its juxtaposing two contrasted recent pieces with two wholly different classics such as have long been staples of these concerts. Although it made its debut here 105 years ago, Mussorgsky’s A Night on the Bare Mountain (1867/86) has latterly been heard in several versions... ... Presumably imagination was the link between this work and Louis Andriessen's song-cycle The Only One... 
Prom 66: European premiere of John Luther Adams's In the Name of the Earth
Sunday, September 08, 2019 |  Move over Stockhausen! Easily overshadowing Gruppen’s three orchestras at different locations, this morning Prom brought together eight London choirs, spacing them in four groups about the Royal Albert Hall at various levels before merging six of them in a flow of humanity on the stage. There was a single work, one-billion, seven-hundred-thousand years in the making: John Luther Adams’s In the Name of the Earth. 
Prom 65: Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen conducted by Constantinos Carydis with Danae Kontora – Mozart, Strauss, Beethoven
Saturday, September 07, 2019 |  A nearly full Royal Albert Hall audience assembled for Danae Kontora’s vocal pyrotechnics, despatched in complementary music of two of the composers most devoted to the soprano voice, despite being written more than a century apart. The two Concert Arias by Mozart were composed for his sister-in-law Aloysia Weber, who was noted for her high but solid vocal range. Despite the gravity of the situation lamented in the Popoloi di Tessaglia’ (the Classical king of Thessaly, Admetus, is fated by the gods to die), Constantinos Carydis and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen laid a fairly genial background. In the slower, opening accompanied recitative and initial section of the Aria, Kontora exuded a ripeness of tone recalling that of Edita Gruberová, surely the work’s greatest exponent on record still. 
Prom 64: The Breaks
Friday, September 06, 2019 |  Prom 64 took a spirited deep dive into the musically alchemic form of the Break, with Jules Buckley and the Heritage Orchestra in collaboration with an impressive roster of performers, including B-Boy dance collective, The Soul Mavericks, acclaimed funk group Ghost-Note and World DJ champion, Mr Switch. 
Prom 63: Staatskapelle Dresden – Myung-Whun Chung conducts Brahms – Yuja Wang plays Rachmaninov
Thursday, September 05, 2019 |  A tonal excursion from minor to major usually has some life-enhancing magic, but from Staatskapelle Dresden and its principal guest conductor Myung-Whun Chung this concert felt doggedly rooted in the minor. 
Prom 62: Canzionere Grecanico Salentino
Wednesday, September 04, 2019 |  Italy's own medievalist folk-rock band Canzioniere Grecanico Salentino was founded during the great era of Steeleye Span, Trader Home and Fairpoint Convention adding Mediterranean heat and resonance to an oft-ethereal genre. 
Prom 61: Vienna Philharmonic – Andrés Orozco-Estrada conducts The Noonday Witch & New World Symphony – Leonidas Kavakos plays Korngold’s Violin Concerto
Wednesday, September 04, 2019 |  Following Bernard Haitink’s semi-official farewell to UK concertizing was never going to be easy. (No matter that others have found more Romantic subjectivity or philosophical depth in Bruckner’s Seventh.) The present trio of works by composers with American links looked relatively small beer on paper and so it proved. At least we had the continuing presence of one of the World’s great orchestras to soften the blow. ... Interpretatively speaking one expected something innovative to come from Andrés Orozco-Estrada... ... Erich Wolfgang Korngold is still regarded with disdain in some circles, for all that his Violin Concerto has lately entered the standard repertoire. I’m not sure this performance will have done anything to convince the sceptics. Leonidas Kavakos has been playing the work for years. 
Prom 60: Bernard Haitink conducts the Vienna Philharmonic in Bruckner 7 – Emanuel Ax plays Beethoven
Tuesday, September 03, 2019 |  At the end of his biography at the back of the printed programme, there was a neutral statement that Bernard Haitink would be taking a sabbatical after this season. This Prom, though, was the ninety-year-old maestro’s farewell to UK concerts, and his Lucerne appearance (September 6) marks his retirement following a sixty-five-year-long career. ... Emanuel Ax (in place of Murray Perahia) was completely part of this aesthetic in a beautifully poised account of Beethoven’s G-major Piano Concerto. ... As with Wagner and the opening to Das Rheingold, it’s said that the serene opening to his Seventh Symphony came to Bruckner in a dream, and an out-of-body quality drifted through the first two movements. 
Prom 59: John Eliot Gardiner conducts Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini
Monday, September 02, 2019 |  September may have arrived, ushering in the waning of Summer, the home stretch of this year’s Proms season, and here the end of John Eliot Gardiner’s five-year Berlioz cycle at the festival. But this performance unleashed a torrent of musical exuberance and rhythmic vitality from the Mediterranean South, with the Rome-based opera Benvenuto Cellini, no doubt honed by Berlioz from his sojourn in the city after winning the celebrated Prix de Rome. Listeners who are only familiar with the Roman Carnival Overture will have recognised the origin of much of its material in this stage-work. 
Proms at … Cadogan Hall/Proms Chamber Music 7: Silesian Quartet & Wojciech Świtała – Weinberg SQ7 & Bacewicz PQ1
Monday, September 02, 2019 |  Arriving in the twentieth-century, the Proms lunchtime’s 800-year musical survey concentrated on two divergent Polish composers working in the 1950s; although Weinberg had found refuge in Soviet Russia, Bacewicz (here fulfilling the role of a female composer new to the Proms) had stayed in Poland. This was a serious and sombre concert, where personal experience seemed woven into the fabric of the music, with the difficulties of post-War existence seeping through both harmony and melody. 
Prom 58: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – Ilan Volkov conducts Nuages, Fiddler’s Child & Little Russian Symphony – Georgia Jarman sings Love Songs of Hafiz
Sunday, September 01, 2019 |  Ilan Volkov is an exceptional musician not usually associated with popular programming. Still, it’s difficult to see how this determinedly low-key event got planning permission: the top layers of the Royal Albert Hall were virtually deserted. 
Prom 57: Long Yu & Shanghai Symphony Orchestra – Qigang Chen & Rachmaninov – Eric Lu plays Mozart K488
Sunday, September 01, 2019 |  The cock had to crow early for this Prom which began at the unusual hour of 11 a.m. and featured the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Long Yu. A near-capacity seated audience made the effort but half the Promenaders preferred a lie in! ... Eric Lu was the Leeds-winning soloist in Mozart. The first sounds from the SSO boded well for a fluent and sometimes-inspired rendition. ... Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances (1940) was his swansong, written for Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, who made a definitive recording in 1960. 
Prom 56: Henry Wood Tribute – Bramwell Tovey conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra – with Leon McCawley & Nathaniel Anderson-Frank | Dobrinka Tabakova premiere
Saturday, August 31, 2019 |  A fascinating snapshot of Sir Henry Wood’s achievements; an intelligently designed programme certainly, but the end results were mixed. ... John Ireland’s once very popular Piano Concerto (completed in 1930 for Helen Perkin) featured Leon McCawley. ... A tapas-style second half began with Dobrinka Tabakova’s Timber & Steel, its title referencing Wood’s nickname... ... There could be no greater contrast than Percy Grainger’s carefree Handel in the Strand, for which Bramwell Tovey coaxed much exuberance. 
Prom 55: Handel’s Jephtha – Allan Clayton, Hilary Summers, Jeanine De Bique; conducted by Richard Egarr
Friday, August 30, 2019 |  Despite the serious, fatalistic subject of Handel’s late oratorio, Jephtha (1751) – surely the closest he came to a Greek tragic drama in terms of its metaphysical theme – this was a generally lively reading, endowed with some alacrity and vigour by Richard Egarr and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Chorus. In that respect it helped that several numbers were cut to make it a tauter performance. But such omissions detracted from the Oratorio’s gravitas and its sense of fateful providence at work... 
Prom 54: Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music
Thursday, August 29, 2019 |  It might seem surprising that the music which makes up Duke Ellington's Sacred Concerts is only now receiving its due at the Proms. Derived almost entirely from those three such events the jazz magus staged (on both sides of the Atlantic) over his final decade, this selection gave an overview of what were both summations of Ellington's career and indications of where he felt his music was headed. With a notable line-up of vocalists and instrumentalists directed by the always-reliable Peter Edwards, this programme fascinated yet frustrated in equal measure. 
Prom 53: BBC Symphony Chorus & Orchestra – Andrew Davis conducts VW's Tallis Fantasia, Hugh Wood's Scenes from Comus, and Elgar's The Music Makers
Thursday, August 29, 2019 |  In that last clause I include Hugh Wood’s work, the composer being thankfully still with us at the age of eighty-seven, present in the Hall to acknowledge the genuine warmth and appreciation from the very large audience for his Scenes from Comus. ... The large string section opened the programme with a hugely impressive account of the great Tallis Fantasia (1910). ... Elgar’s The Music Makers has always seemed to me to be unfairly disparaged. I consider it a masterpiece – a view with which I defy anyone hearing this account to disagree. 
Prom 52: Britten Sinfonia – Ryan Wigglesworth conducts Tchaikovsky's Mozartiana & Stravinsky's Fairy’s Kiss | Marc-André Hamelin premieres Wigglesworth’s Piano Concerto | Wigglesworth & Hamelin play Mozart K365
Wednesday, August 28, 2019 |  Mozart inspires Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky motivates Stravinsky. Mozart writes a Concerto for Two Pianos (for himself and his sister), Ryan Wigglesworth composes a Piano Concerto for Paul Lewis (who on the night turns out to be Marc-André Hamelin), and Wigglesworth is also showcased as conductor and pianist. Chuck in the Britten Sinfonia for a neatly designed all-through Proms package. 
Prom 51: Glyndebourne Festival Opera – Barbe & Doucet’s production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte; conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth
Tuesday, August 27, 2019 |  Try as one might, it’s difficult to see any meaningful connection between Mozart’s great opera of the Enlightenment, The Magic Flute, and the grand-hotel setting into which it is ignominiously thrust in Glyndebourne’s recent production, and brought to the Proms for the Festival’s annual appearance. ... Apparently the inspiration for it came when its director and designer duo, André Barbe and Renaud Doucet, investigated the origins of the work in Vienna (premiered there in 1791) and were led to the famous Hotel Sacher, and its one-time redoubtable owner Anna Sacher. 
Prom 50: Orchestre de Paris – Daniel Harding conducts Genoveva Overture, Babylon Suite, and Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony
Monday, August 26, 2019 |  ...a London Prom and Beethoven's 'Pastoral' Symphony? In a reading of simple honesty, non-festooned and free of mannerism, the jewel of this performance was the second movement, 'Scene by the Brook', Daniel Harding water-colouring a landscape of elevated poetic detail and chamber-discursive dialogue. ... Following a graciously judged Genoveva Overture – structurally strong, the strings silkily blended, the horns placed, the Mendelssohnian overtones elegantly touched, “a tale of injured and restored innocence” – Jörg Widmann's poly-stylistic 2014 Babylon Suite, a James Joyce of a score, witnessed Harding and his virtuoso players in furious form... 
Proms at … Cadogan Hall/Proms Chamber Music 6: Amatis Piano Trio plays Robert & Clara Schumann
Monday, August 26, 2019 |  Continuing its 800-year musical survey with an eye to redressing the gender balance by introducing female composers to the Proms roster, this sixth PCM hadn’t moved much in time and place from No.5’s contribution of Fanny Mendelssohn, as the focus turned to Clara Schumann, with a nod to husband Robert. 
Prom 49: The Lost Words
Sunday, August 25, 2019 |  This season – marking the 150th-anniversary of the birth of the founder of the Proms – has celebrated Sir Henry Wood with a series of Novelties (pieces he introduced to the UK). None were included here but this concert will probably go down as a Proms Curiosity. ... Based on Robert Macfarlane’s poems and Jackie Morris’s beautiful paintings as published in The Lost Words in 2017, and conceived by Serena Cross, this Prom recreated in sound nine of The Lost Words’ subjects and added new verse by Macfarlane, The Red Fox, set to music by Alissa Firsova. 
Prom 48: BBC Symphony Orchestra – Cristian Măcelaru conducts Silvestri & Rachmaninov – Seong-Jin Cho plays Prokofiev
Saturday, August 24, 2019 |  The chance to see Cristian Măcelaru make his Proms debut was probably less of a draw than the return visit of Seong-Jin Cho but the place was packed, heatwave notwithstanding. 
Prom 47: Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra – Andris Nelsons conducts Bruckner 8 | Michael Schönheit plays J. S. Bach on the Royal Albert Hall organ
Friday, August 23, 2019 |  The last time Bruckner’s Eighth was played at the Proms (in 2013, Vienna Philharmonic and Lorin Maazel), it was prefaced by a short recital of J. S. Bach organ music. Six years later, the Proms kept to the same format, with the Leipzig Gewandhaus’s resident organist Michael Schönheit dovetailing two of the grander works with two well-known, quieter Chorale Preludes. ... This was the Leipzig Cloth Merchants’ orchestra’s first Prom with Andris Nelsons as its Music Director, and their Bruckner’s Eighth was a masterclass of mutual responsiveness. Frustratingly, however, the performance never quite achieved lift-off, despite anticipations of great and interesting things... 
Prom 46: CBSO – Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts Lamia, The Way to Castle Yonder, and Weinberg’s Symphony 3 – Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays Elgar’s Cello Concerto
Thursday, August 22, 2019 |  There can be few now alive who recall the profile enjoyed by Lamia during the inter-war period. Completed in 1918, this symphonic poem after Keats's fanciful verse of that name was Dorothy Howell's first orchestral piece... ... a design whose formal focus was persuasively projected by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla; the City of Birmingham Symphony responding with audible belief to music by a local composer who may yet receive her due. ... As Howell’s creative career was beginning, Elgar's was unwittingly drawing to its close – his Cello Concerto (1919) being suffused with an 'end of era' fatalism and regret such as Sheku Kanneh-Mason brought out with understated conviction... 
Prom 45: Mississippi Goddam: A Homage to Nina Simone
Wednesday, August 21, 2019 |  Proms with the Metropole Orkest and Jules Buckley have become almost as much an annual event as those by John Wilson, though here the emphasis is less on getting back to the source of the music or artist in question than recreating its spirit from the perspective of the present. With her roots variously in classical, jazz, gospel and soul, and an artist whose songs extend from protest to confessional, Nina Simone (1933-2003) was ideally suited to the contextual makeover as has been key to Buckley's concerts this past decade – and so it proved here. 
Prom 44: LSO – Simon Rattle conducts Les bandar-log, Amèriques, and Belshazzar’s Feast
Tuesday, August 20, 2019 |  Simon Rattle has often used his Proms appearances to schedule works of notable dimensions (hence Gurrelieder in 2017), and this concert was no exception in featuring three pieces which ideally need the Royal Albert Hall acoustic to convey their fullest impact. ... The 'scherzo' among his sequence of tone poems evoking scenes from Kipling's The Jungle Book, Les bandar-log (1940) is also the only one of Charles Koechlin's orchestral works to enjoy revival in the UK. ... If the composing life of Edgard Varèse was one of continual frustration over the fulfilling of his grander conceptions, the heady experiences of his early years in New York at least found realisation in Amèriques (1921) – here in its outsize original version unheard for six decades after its infamous premiere with Leopold Stokowski. ... Had this piece made it to the UK then rather than forty-five years later, the impact of Belshazzar’s Feast (1931) might have been less remarkable. Not that William Walton failed to grasp the challenge as the Leeds Festival took up a BBC commission for a cantata on the fall of the Babylonian king, its double chorus complemented by organ and an orchestra only seeming modest in the context of this programme. Gerald Finley was on hand for an authoritative rendering of the baritone part... 
Prom 43: BBC Symphony Chorus & Orchestra – Sakari Oramo conducts Beethoven’s Choral Symphony, Andreas Haefliger premieres Dieter Ammann’s Piano Concerto, and Neil Ferris leads the first performance of Jonathan Dove’s We Are One Fire
Monday, August 19, 2019 |  There were more notes in Dieter Ammann’s thirty-two-minute ‘Gran Toccata’, the literal and syllabic banished in favour of highly-coloured randomness. ... I felt a little sorry for Andreas Haefliger... ... What then was the problem? Was it perhaps my own subjective response to feel that Beethoven’s profounder contemplations had been short-circuited by what had gone before. Sakari Oramo is a fine conductor yet on the night his breezy tempos and fluid phrasing felt a little beside the point... 
Proms at … Cadogan Hall/Proms Chamber Music 5: Louise Alder & Gary Matthewman
Monday, August 19, 2019 |  Louise Alder has an extraordinarily relaxed and attuned relationship with Gary Matthewman, allowing each to shine. She brought wonderful tonal variety, a sense of drama and playfulness and real technical assurance, whilst he relished all the showy or descriptive qualities of the accompaniments. 
Prom 42: Ulster Orchestra – Rafael Payare conducts the First Symphonies of Beethoven & Shostakovich and Gubaidulina’s Fairytale Poem – Mariam Batsashvili plays Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto
Sunday, August 18, 2019 |  This appealingly designed Prom, “Youthful Beginnings”, showcased the familiar and the audacious, secure roots and tentative blossoms. Beethoven's First Symphony, premiered in 1800, got the journey under way with spritely rhythms and orchestral sparkle, Rafael Payare securing a characterful, stylish, tightly co-ordinated account from an on-form Ulster Orchestra. ... Sofia Gubaidulina's early Fairytale Poem (1971), derived from music written originally for a Moscow Radio broadcast, is based on a Czech fantasy-tale all about the life, dreams, rapture and fading stub of a stick of schoolroom chalk. ... Born two-hundred years ago, Clara Schumann, the earth mother of Romantic pianism... ... The Weimar-trained Georgian Mariam Batsashvili, a BBC New Generation Artist, has the notes in her fingers. 
Prom 41: London Philharmonic Orchestra – Vladimir Jurowski conducts Rimsky-Korsakov, Liadov & Glazunov – Alexander Ghindin plays Rachmaninov
Saturday, August 17, 2019 |  The London Philharmonic played superbly throughout, neat and well-drilled but also surpassingly eloquent in so far as the programme allowed. Vladimir Jurowski, on his best form in this kind of repertoire, drew some Soviet-era sounds from his antiphonally placed violins, characterful woodwinds and suitably hefty brass. ... The pianist here was Alexander Ghindin, a serial champion of Rachmaninov’s original text... ... Glazunov’s Fifth is a mature work, often considered his finest in the form but, in truth, not intrinsically much more attractive, apart from that dazzling second movement. ... As a postscript and also a complement to David’s Prom review, I would like to mention a release from the London Philharmonic that marked ten years (since 2007) of Vladimir Jurowski’s Principal Conductorship of the Orchestra. ... Otherwise, it’s Russian classics, including two Nights on Bare Mountain (Mussorgsky’s hair-raising original and Rimsky’s revision), Glinka charmers, Prokofiev buffoonery, and Rachmaninov... 
Proms at … Holy Sepulchre London – BBC Singers/Sofi Jeannin
Saturday, August 17, 2019 |  Beginning and ending in the side chapel dedicated to Sir Henry Wood, where his ashes are interred, this Proms at … Holy Sepulchre London concert commemorated the founder-conductor of the Proms in the 150th-anniversary year of his birth with British a cappella works. 
Prom 40: Queen Victoria's 200th-Anniversary – Ádám Fischer conducts the OAE in Sullivan and the Scottish Symphony – Stephen Hough plays Mendelssohn | Alessandro Fisher sings songs by Prince Albert
Friday, August 16, 2019 |  This Prom provided an ideal celebration for the bicentenary of Queen Victoria’s birth. A remarkable enhancement to Stephen Hough’s performance of Mendelssohn’s First Piano Concerto was the use of Victoria’s own piano. It’s in a perfect state of preservation. ... Prince Albert was a skilled musician, a singer, pianist and organist and it was good to have five of his Lieder – “songs written by German-speaking composers of classical music.” ... Mendelssohn’s ‘Scotch’ Symphony (so-called by the composer and all nineteenth-century publishers) sounded very interesting from the OAE’s instruments... 
Prom 39: BBC National Orchestra of Wales – Elim Chan conducts The Hebrides & Pictures at an Exhibition – Catriona Morison sings Elgar’s Sea Pictures & Errollyn Wallen's This Frame Is Part of the Painting
Thursday, August 15, 2019 |  Two recent prize-winners at the Proms. Catriona Morison was winner of Cardiff Singer of the World 2017 whilst Elim Chan won the Donatella Flick Conducting Prize in 2014. Chan made an immediate impression in a thoughtful reading of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture... ... Morison was particularly impressive Elgar’s Sea Pictures. ... Morison had a major role to play in Errollyn Wallen’s This Frame is Part of the Painting. It’s a twelve-minute paean to the work of painter Howard Hodgkin... ... The evening closed with a very familiar musical homage, Mussorgsky’s for-piano Pictures at an Exhibition, written to commemorate painter and architect Viktor Hartmann, in Ravel’s orchestration (could we though have had Henry Wood’s version?). 
Prom 38: Solomon’s Knot – Johann Sebastian Bach Cantatas
Wednesday, August 14, 2019 |  Solomon’s Knot arrived at the Proms in no uncertain terms with this late-nighter of punchy Bach Cantatas. A flexible ensemble, founded in 2008 and with a modus operandi that dictates singers perform from memory, here it fielded a band of nineteen players to support the eight vocalists. ... This programme could easily have been termed ‘Game of Thrones comes to the Proms’ – as the triumphant choruses by which Bach marked St Michael’s feast day on September 29, for which all these Cantatas were written during the 1720s, celebrate his defeat of a dragon. 
Prom 37: Hallé – Maxime Pascal conducts Berlioz’s Childhood of Christ
Wednesday, August 14, 2019 |  Like the work itself – which grew organically over four years from a rustic ditty Berlioz was asked to compose at a card game for a friend’s album in 1850 – this performance morphed from the originally advertised line-up. Following the news about Sarah Connolly, Julie Boulianne was quickly announced (she’d sung in John Eliot Gardiner’s Roméo et Juliette in 2016 here). But then Mark Elder also had to withdraw at short notice – requiring surgery – and was replaced by Maxime Pascal, who at the Royal Festival Hall in May conducted Stockhausen’s Donnerstag aus Licht. 
Prom 36: Late-Night Mixtape
Tuesday, August 13, 2019 |  Hazy distant summers came to life with Soumik Datta's sarod opuses, such as the luxurious Morning Song, then the meditative choral glory of Gjeilo's The Spheres, Lobo's Versa est in luctum, John Tavener's The Lamb and the sombre sublimation of Max Richter's On the Nature of Daylight continued the theme of reflection. 
Prom 35: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, ENO Chorus & BBC Singers – Martyn Brabbins’s 60th-birthday concert – Pictured Within: Birthday Variations for M. C. B. | Serenade to Music | Song of Destiny | Enigma Variations
Tuesday, August 13, 2019 |  Martyn Brabbins has been conducting ensembles big and small at the Proms since 1993. ... The opening Theme (by an Anonymous author), plainly taking off from Elgar’s, has a provisional, aspiring, rocking element and a more troubled second strain. ... Sir Harrison Birtwistle, given the impossible task of responding to ‘Nimrod’, provides a tranche of instantly recognisable primeval landscape, suitably meditative if less than melodic (or relevant?). Next a massive contrast (as in the original), Judith Weir basing her Variation more directly on ‘Dorabella’ or rather its flickering woodwind figures. ... The remainder of the first half was taken up by Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music, music closely associated with Henry Wood and the Royal Albert Hall rather than the Proms itself. ... Following the interval, the Brahms received a reading with similar strengths, the Elgar probing deeper. Brabbins has lately emerged as a major Elgarian, though it’s not easy to explain what makes his interpretations so special (the art that conceals art and all that). 
Prom 35 preview: Martyn Brabbins introduces Pictured Within: Birthday Variations for M. C. B. [August 13 @ 7 p.m.]
Thursday, July 25, 2019 |  Having conducted hundreds of premieres, and having a passion for English music, I decided to commission a new set of “Enigma Variations”!! Risky, I know, but perhaps worth a try... 
Prom 34: West-Eastern Divan Orchestra – Daniel Barenboim conducts Schubert & Lutosławski – Martha Argerich plays Tchaikovsky
Monday, August 12, 2019 |  A full house for this London leg of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra’s twentieth-anniversary tour was guaranteed even without the presence of Martha Argerich... ... Daniel Barenboim can conduct Schubert in a curiously sedate fashion, as if transported to some sleepy German provincial town in the late 1950s. ... There was more drama (and eight basses) in the Tchaikovsky. Most pianists in late career opt for intimate recitals. Not so Argerich who has always preferred to make music with chums – and she has known Barenboim longer than most [...] even if they have only been regular partners in the last few years. 
Proms at … Cadogan Hall/Proms Chamber Music 4: Aris Quartett plays Schubert, Sirmen & Haydn
Monday, August 12, 2019 |  It was curious to start with the piece written last. Here we had Schubert, in his early teens, who would contribute greatly to the String Quartet genre, feeling his way if with infectious spirit and also some experimental forays into tonality and texture. The Aris Quartett revelled in these aspects. 
Prom 33 – BBC Symphony Orchestra with Christina Gansch – Semyon Bychkov conducts Detlev Glanert/Weites Land, Schubert & Glanert's Einsamkeit, Mahler 4
Sunday, August 11, 2019 |  Detlev Glanert, born in Hamburg in 1960, came to music late, beginning his formal studies in composition only in his twenties – working with Hans Werner Henze for four years and then Oliver Knussen. ... Subtitled ‘Music with Brahms’, Weites Land (Open Country, 2013, revised February 2018) takes the first four bars of Brahms's Fourth Symphony as its starting point... ... Economical in gesture, a master of his art, Semyon Bychkov (following up on a fine performance with the Berlin Philharmonic last September, link below) secured committed playing from the BBCSO. ... Schubert's massive, emotionally intense 1818 setting of Johann Mayrhofer's allegoric Einsamkeit doesn't get aired that often. ... Christina Gansch gave a glorious account, one of soaring tenderness... 
Prom 32: National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America – Antonio Pappano conducts Occidentalis & Alpine Symphony – Joyce DiDonato sings Nuits d’été
Sunday, August 11, 2019 |  An exciting morning Prom celebrating summer nights and an alpine excursion. Resplendent in its uniform – domino black jackets, crimson red pants and sneakers – the National Youth Orchestra of the USA showed itself to be of considerable talent, particularly in control of dynamics and texture in a difficult acoustic. Kicking off the programme was nineteen-year old Benjamin Beckman’s four-minute Occidentalis... ... Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été was ravishingly sung by Joyce DiDonato... 
Prom 31: Philharmonia Orchestra – Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts Brahms's Haydn Variations & Bruckner's Romantic Symphony – Lise Davidsen sings Richard Strauss
Saturday, August 10, 2019 |  The Four Songs, Opus 27, by Richard Strauss were composed in 1894 by the thirty-year-old Strauss as a wedding present for his wife, soprano Pauline de Ahna. The orchestration is masterly, but the colourful sounds never obstruct the vocal line, and gave Lise Davidsen the opportunity to reveal the superbly expressive quality of the middle range of her voice. ... Salonen says that “Anton Bruckner was one of the main reasons why I decided to become a musician.” Certainly his devotion to the ‘Romantic’ Symphony (which first drew his attention to the composer) was evident in this performance in which the Philharmonia responded to his direction sympathetically and with immaculate precision... 
Prom 30: The Warner Brothers Story – John Wilson [second reel]
Friday, August 09, 2019 |  For the second time on this day, the John Wilson Orchestra together with adorning singers indefatigably led us through music composed for Warner Brothers’ movies. 
Prom 29: The Warner Brothers Story – John Wilson [matinee showing]
Friday, August 09, 2019 |  Whether or not it produced the finest movies of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Warner Brothers boasted an unmatchable roster of composers from which to draw at a time when lavishness, opulence and melodrama were the order of the day. From among his select corpus of sixteen film-scores, Erich Wolfgang Korngold certainly pulled out the stops in The Sea Hawk and not least its Overture – a succinct while unerring encapsulation of widescreen action which launched this latest Proms appearance by John Wilson and his Orchestra in appropriately swashbuckling fashion. 
Prom 28: BBC National Chorus & Orchestra of Wales – Tadaaki Otaka conducts Takemitsu/Twill by Twilight, Huw Watkins/The Moon, Rachmaninov/The Bells, Borodin/Polovtsian Dances
Thursday, August 08, 2019 |  An oddly conceived and structured concert. On paper the inclusion of the Borodin looked as lame as any pre-announced encore, but the programming of Takemitsu and Rachmaninov promised something special given their prominence during Tadaaki Otaka’s thirty-year relationship with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Might Huw Watkins’s new piece prove more durable than the typical ten-minute Proms pièce d’occasion? 
Prom 27: The Sound of Space: Sci-Fi Film Music
Wednesday, August 07, 2019 |  Attending a concert of Sci-Fi film music, one has expectations: a smattering of John Williams is a certainty (E.T., Close Encounters, Star Wars) and perhaps a bit of Jerry Goldsmith (Star Trek, Alien). Not here – this was a Prom for nerds; and while, as underscoring for a particular drama, the music can be effective, devoid of visual cues it can become bland, all sounding very much the same. ... The London Contemporary Orchestra and Robert Ames focus on commissioning new music. Not too challenging here and there was the visual distraction of spotlights more commonly found in a rock concert. 
Prom 26: BBC National Chorus & Orchestra of Wales – Nathalie Stutzmann conducts Tragic Overture, Prelude & Liebestod, and Mozart’s Requiem
Wednesday, August 07, 2019 |  Nathalie Stutzmann’s shapely and vibrant presentation kept the action flowing with little tendency to wallow into despair... ... Although Wagner completed Tristan and Isolde in 1859, it wasn’t premiered until six years later. Taking every opportunity to stimulate interest in his music-drama, he stitched-together the score’s bookends. ... Like it or not, Stutzmann had a clear picture of how Mozart’s final/left-unfinished manuscript should go. 
Prom 25: BBC Symphony Orchestra – Dalia Stasevska conducts Karelia Suite & Pathétique Symphony – Sol Gabetta gives London premiere of Mieczysław Weinberg’s Cello Concerto
Tuesday, August 06, 2019 |  Reflecting that “music is a place where worst enemies can sit side by side and feel the same thing”, Dalia Stasevska, the new young Ukrainian-born Finnish principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, hasn't been conducting long – less than five years professionally. But, benefitting from studies with a clutch of Finland's best – Mikko Franck, Hannu Lintu, Susanna Mälkki (whom she particularly admires), Sakari Oramo and Leif Segerstam – she clearly has a passion for the occupation. ... Born a century ago, Mieczysław Weinberg (1919-96) – a Polish Jew who, fleeing the German occupation of Warsaw, embraced the Soviet Union in 1939, journeying from Belorussia to Uzbekistan to finally Moscow – dominated the first half. A close friend and musical partner of Shostakovich... ... A ravishing, aristocratic player always seeking out new repertory with a difference – she should look at some of the cello music of Adrian Williams or Cheryl Frances-Hoad – Sol Gabetta made a cultured case for its revival, commanding the platform with elegance and finesse... 
Prom 24: Relaxed Prom – Swan Lake & Paganini Rhapsody – BBC Phil/Ben Gernon with Juan Pérez Floristán
Tuesday, August 06, 2019 |  Fighting your way out of a tourist-encrusted South Kensington tube station in time for an 11.30 a.m. concert at the Royal Albert Hall was always going to be a strain, so a Relaxed Prom was attractive, an abridged version of the previous night’s show, presented by Carrie and David Grant, possibly best-known as vocal coaches and judges on Pop Idol and Fame Academy, who introduced the music. 
Prom 23: BBC Philharmonic – Ben Gernon conducts Peterloo Overture & Swan Lake – Juan Pérez Floristán plays Paganini Rhapsody
Monday, August 05, 2019 |  Malcolm Arnold’s Peterloo Overture was commissioned by the Trades Union Congress in 1968 to commemorate the massacre of protesting workers in Saint Peter’s Field, Manchester in 1819... ... Juan Pérez Floristán took over from the indisposed Alexander Gavrylyuk in Paganini Rhapsody. 
Proms at … Cadogan Hall/Proms Chamber Music 3: The English Concert & Kristian Bezuidenhout
Monday, August 05, 2019 |  Comprising music derived largely from the late-seventeenth-century this was a fascinating programme featuring works all attempting to seek popularity by adopting or emulating features of music popular at the court of Louis XIV. 
Prom 22: BBC Philharmonic – John Storgårds conducts Isle of the Dead, Midnight Sun Variations, The Year 1905
Sunday, August 04, 2019 |  Not that the present evening was without its Finnish connections. John Storgårds, himself a notable Sibelian, had chosen a mostly Russian programme... ... The atmospherics were rather lacking in the Rachmaninov which launched the concert. ... It was much the same story in the Shostakovich, middle-of-the-road in matters of tempo and well-received at the close by the virtually full house (a gratifying statistic given the absence of a Concerto). 
Prom 21: Olivier Latry at the Royal Albert Hall organ
Sunday, August 04, 2019 |  ...I trust I shall not be considered elitist when I say my initial reaction on reading Olivier Latry’s programme for the single organ recital Prom this year was that a golden opportunity had been sacrificed on the altar of fashionable populism. 
Prom 20 – BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – Sibelius – Thomas Dausgaard conducts the UK premiere of the first score of Symphony 5 | Pekka Kuusisto plays the Violin Concerto | Finnish Folk Music
Saturday, August 03, 2019 |  Thomas Dausgaard can be relied upon for thoughtful and imaginative programme-planning, and this Prom was no exception; culminating as it did with a first UK performance for Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony in its (much discussed though rarely heard) original version. ... An appropriate occasion for featuring the original version of the Violin Concerto, though Pekka Kuusisto opted for the familiar revision... 
Prom 19: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – Thomas Dausgaard conducts Also sprach Zarathustra & The Confession of Isobel Gowdie – Alexander Melnikov plays Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto
Friday, August 02, 2019 |  Three composers around thirty-one. Tone-poem, Concerto, requiem. 1895-96, 1841-45, 1990. Gravity depths, cosmic trumpets, sounds remembered, a single pitch, C, to open, link and close. ... Witnessing the fire and power of creativity on the cusp of maturity, James MacMillan's The Confession of Isobel Gowdie, premiered at the Proms in 1990, was, by some distance, the glory of the evening. ... Earlier – reminding of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing fifty years ago no less than Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey – Also sprach Zarathustra got off to a magnificent start, the Royal Albert Hall's organ ever thunderously the "Voice of Jupiter". ... Schumann's Piano Concerto was the disappointment. Alexander Melnikov – a former Naumov student in Moscow championed by Richter, third at the 1989 Robert Schumann International and fifth at the 1991 Queen Elisabeth – took an egg-shell view of the work... 
Prom 18: BBC Symphony Orchestra – Edward Gardner conducts Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Claudia Mahnke & Stuart Skelton – Leif Ove Andsnes plays Benjamin Britten’s Piano Concerto
Thursday, August 01, 2019 |  Britten loved Mahler’s music and thought, in relation to Das Lied von der Erde, that it was “cruel that music should be so beautiful” – and there are flickers of that composer in the Englishman’s epically precocious Piano Concerto, which he wrote as a showpiece for his virtuosic pianism, and which was almost the last work he composed (in 1938) before his wartime move to America. ... With the BBCSO and Edward Gardner scoring point after brilliant point in the accompaniment, Leif Ove Andsnes was on elegant and economic form... 
Prom 17: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra – 2 – Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Sibelius 1 & Der Rosenkavalier | Gil Shaham plays Prokofiev
Wednesday, July 31, 2019 |  Having been conducting Brahms on Sunday at the Festival de Lanaudière, Canada’s largest classical music festival, Yannick Nézet-Séguin can’t have had much time to prepare for his surprise stint with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra at the Proms (with Salzburg to follow). Most audience members were aware that Mariss Jansons had been advised to withdraw on medical grounds but fewer were expecting a replacement soloist. The advent of Gil Shaham came too late for the printed programmes although an insert was provided. That said, stand-ins don’t come much more welcome! 
Prom 16: Angélique Kidjo
Tuesday, July 30, 2019 |  Angélique Kidjo's muse is the late Cuban salsa superstar Celia Cruz, and much of the night was devoted to this genre including Quimbara accompanied by Kidjo's strutting cockerel-dancing. 
Prom 15: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra – 1 – Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Symphonies by Beethoven (No.2) & Shostakovich (No.5)
Tuesday, July 30, 2019 |  It should have been Mariss Jansons conducting (resting on doctor’s orders), and Shostakovich’s Tenth. Yannick Nézet-Seguin replaced him and offered the Russian composer’s Fifth instead. ... At this Prom, the distinction of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra’s sound was achieved mainly through absolute precision and enhanced by the immaculate balance obtained by Nézet-Séguin. The challenging acoustic of the Royal Albert Hall was overcome... 
Prom 14: Omer Meir Wellber conducts Haydn’s The Creation with BBC Philharmonic & BBC Proms Youth Choir
Monday, July 29, 2019 |  This was an extraordinarily crisp and engaging account of Haydn’s Die Schöpfung (The Creation), led by Omer Meir Wellber with an unerring sense of pace very attuned to the narrative of the work and refreshingly devoid of a ‘grand oratorio’ approach with the recitatives flowing in an almost improvisatory way. 
Proms at … Cadogan Hall/Proms Chamber Music 2: A Celebration of Barbara Strozzi
Monday, July 29, 2019 |  Bringing a touch of vibrancy to this seventeenth-century stop-off in the Proms Chamber Music survey of 800 years of music – not only aurally but visually, with Mariana Flores in a swishing, sparkling, salmon-pink full-length dress – this must have surely been the first lunchtime Prom devoted to women composers (well, Venetian woman composers at least). There were two – Barbara Strozzi, born 400 years ago; and her slightly younger Venetian compatriot Antonia Bembo – with one addition from Bembo’s teacher (and possibly Strozzi’s as well), Francesco Cavalli. 
Prom 13: BBC Symphony Orchestra – Sakari Oramo conducts Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles ...
Sunday, July 28, 2019 |  Continuing this year’s Proms theme of space exploration on the fiftieth-anniversary of the first Moon Landings, Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra took up Olivier Messiaen’s expansive cycle Des canyons aux étoiles ... (1971-4). As a spiritual meditation that leads up from the sublime landscapes of Utah, to the empyrean realm of the stars, its succession of a dozen movements is often the occasion for performers to wallow in slow, mystical fervour. 
Prom 12: National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain – Mark Wigglesworth conducts Icarus & Romeo and Juliet – Nicola Benedetti plays Tchaikovsky
Saturday, July 27, 2019 |  There may be economic reasons behind the appearance of more and more youth orchestras at the Proms but it’s pure gain to hear an ensemble big enough to fill the venue with unamplified sound, however inauthentic the doublings. Relatives and supporters seemed to outnumber tourists at this packed National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain Prom, long an annual event. ... The more or less Russian programme began with a London premiere. Not that a musical treatment of the Icarus legend was the most obvious candidate for inclusion in a season inspired by the 1969 Apollo Moon Landing and, by implication, that make-believe directive “to boldly go where no man has gone before”... ... Next up was Nicola Benedetti who created quite a stir even before she had played a note – whether thanks to her high public profile, profound commitment to music education or an impactful off-the-shoulder frock of fiery red. Although she has regularly confounded critics with her devotion to non-standard musical fare she must have a special relationship with the Tchaikovsky... ... The enormous popularity of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet is a relatively recent phenomenon. ... The selection was typical of Mark Wigglesworth, telling a grand, tragic tale with high seriousness, visceral attack and impressive continuity... 
Proms at … Battersea Arts Centre
Saturday, July 27, 2019 |  Take three stages in a resurrected venue, brazen in its shabby chic state with a nearly-completed organ restoration. Add five composer/performers and the might of the BBC, let alone the droll enthusiasm of presenter Georgia Mann, and what have you got? The first Proms at... this season in the cool surroundings of Battersea Arts Centre’s Grand Hall, with its distressed walls revealing a patina of the building’s history and a constant reminder of the fire that all-but destroyed it four years ago. 
Prom 11: 1969: The Sound of a Summer
Friday, July 26, 2019 |  People wore flowers in their hair and there were Paisley shirts and loon pants in the auditorium but more people wore twenty-first-century sportswear and trainers. This Prom was 1969 – the Sound of a Summer: Woodstock, Apollo 11 Landing on the Moon, Vietnam War protests, the Beatles’ final album and counter-cultural activity generally. ... Haynes and co-vocalist Tony Momrelle were real assets, often able to give familiar songs new life. Haynes gave Burt Bacharach’s Oscar-winning Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) more lift than it frequently receives. She made What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life (by Michel Legrand) touching with her distinct and elastic phrasing. Momrelle has a fine voice that can be both sinewy and buttery and brought vigour to Everybody’s Talkin’ (sung in Midnight Cowboy by Harry Nilsson). ... Momrelle sang I Heard It Through the Grapevine which became Motown’s biggest hit with Marvin Gaye. Haynes sang Bacharach’s I Say a Little Prayer, originally sung by Dionne Warwick but re-recorded by Aretha Franklin. 
Prom 10: Public Service Broadcasting – The Race for Space
Thursday, July 25, 2019 |  Despite the heat, which may have put off passing audiences at the earlier Prom (No.9), this year’s first Late Night was rammed. I may have been one of the laggards in only recently falling for the charms of Public Service Broadcasting’s intriguing The Race for Space released in 2015, but it was a shoe-in for the celebrations of the first Moon Landing in 1969. And it proved an energising experience in its live expanded form: band-member J. F. Abraham’s orchestrations for The Multi-Story Orchestra filling the Royal Albert Hall with a succession of ear-caressing chords and cadences, adding an introduction and coda to the album, as well as interpolating an extra track, Korolev (Sputnik’s single B-side, about Russian rocket engineer, Sergei Korolev), between Go! and the final track Tomorrow. 
Prom 9: BBC National Orchestra of Wales – Markus Stenz conducts Till Eulenspiegel & Brahms 1 – Jeroen Berwaerts & Håkan Hardenberger give UK premiere of Tobias Broström’s Nigredo – Dark Night of the Soul
Thursday, July 25, 2019 |  Improbable as it looks on paper, Richard Strauss and Brahms constituted the livelier outer panels of a triptych in which Tobias Broström’s two-trumpet Concerto formed the heart of darkness. ... Markus Stenz and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales set the scene with their carefully calibrated ripples of sound which evoked waves of water, more than light even, as though floating around a point of equilibrium within the texture of the music itself, rather than tied to, or grounded in, anything outside of itself. The contributions from Håkan Hardenberger and Jeroen Berwaerts emanated from those indistinct eddies of sound... ... The turbulence of Brahms’s First Symphony – the product of a twenty-year artistic struggle with Beethoven’s mighty cycle – is often taken to be indicative of some dark night of the soul on that composer’s part. But in Stenz’s interpretation, it took on a surprising levity and clarity. ... To open the concert was a jocular reading of Strauss’s high-spirited tone poem about the ‘merry pranks’ of the folkloric hero Till Eulenspiegel... 
Prom 8: BBC Symphony Orchestra – Peter Eötvös conducts Faune, Dance Suite & Firebird – Isabelle Faust gives UK premiere of Eötvös’s Alhambra
Wednesday, July 24, 2019 |  Henry Wood (Proms guru, and it’s his 150th-anniversary this year) introduced three of these works to the UK, and Peter Eötvös was on hand to do similarly with his Alhambra. ... Eötvös (born 1944) is a conductor who, through his composer’s instincts, freshens-up the music he interprets – much-needed with the ubiquitous Firebird... ... Alhambra (2018, premiered twelve days ago) was written for Isabelle Faust. The note G (Granada) is important, so too the interval of a fifth, and the orchestration includes a mandolin (the violinist’s “constant follower”, like Sancho Panza says Eötvös) and a baritone saxophone... 
Prom 7: BBC Philharmonic – Omer Meir Wellber conducts Ben-Haim, Schoenberg & Schumann – Yeol Eum Son plays Mozart Piano Concerto K450
Tuesday, July 23, 2019 |  In his debut appearance at the Proms – as Chief Conductor designate of the BBC Philharmonic – Omer Meir Wellber ranged over three centuries’ worth of music with four bold works from the Austro-German tradition that were all ground-breaking in their various ways. 
Prom 6: Orchestra of the Royal Academy of Music and The Juilliard School – Edward Gardner conducts Metacosmos & The Rite of Spring – James Ehnes plays Britten’s Violin Concerto
Monday, July 22, 2019 |  An ensemble of gifted students from London’s Royal Academy of Music and New York’s Julliard School. From the hot summer’s day outside – there were deck-chairs in Hyde Park – we were transported to the ice-cold of outer space. Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s music has characteristic Nordic signposts... ... Then to Benjamin Britten’s Violin Concerto. James Ehnes graduated from The Juilliard School in 1997 and now serves as a Visiting Professor at the Royal Academy. ... Following the break, a nervous start to The Rite of Spring quickly gave way to a confident rendition... 
Proms at … Cadogan Hall/Proms Chamber Music 1: VOCES8
Monday, July 22, 2019 |  Interspersing some familiar choral works oft-heard in concerts or cathedral or church services and choral evensongs with snatches of the unfamiliar and two works by contemporary composers was a great way to kick-off the Proms at Cadogan Hall season. VOCES8 is a top-notch ensemble... ... The premiere of Alexia Sloane’s Earthward [BBC commission], set to a text of her own, followed. 
Prom 5: CBeebies: A Musical Trip to the Moon [second voyage]
Monday, July 22, 2019 |  The CBeebies joined in the Proms celebrations of the fiftieth-anniversary of the first manned mission to land on the Moon with their own trip to it, including a brief diversion to the Clangers Planet (also fifty). There was much audience involvement in the panto spirit. Multiple screens, projections, lighting effects and roving spots were used to make the experience as immersive as possible. Archival footage of the Moon Landing was strangely touching. The massed ranks of the CBeebies Proms Choir and the BBC Singers were green-clad to striking effect and a rather handsome rocket achieved a strictly limited lift-off from the Arena. 
Prom 4: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Kirill Karabits – Short Ride ... The Planets – Nemanja Radulović plays Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto
Sunday, July 21, 2019 |  Gustav Holst’s inspiration in writing The Planets may have been as much astrology as it was astronomy but it was the (too?) obvious work for the Proms celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the first manned mission to land on the Moon. ... Nemanja Radulović may look and dress like Slash from Guns N’ Roses but he is a fine violinist who makes up for any lack of sumptuous tone with a variety of timbre and spot-on execution. This was evident in his reading of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto... 
Prom 3: CBeebies: A Musical Trip to the Moon
Sunday, July 21, 2019 |  Oh, what fun! From the choir’s splendid “Welcome to the CBeebies Prom” to an appeal to the Go Jetters to assist in getting the CBeebies’ rocket back to Earth, this was a concert that had children at its heart. Four CBeebies stalwarts, Justin, Yolanda, Chris and Maddie – all very well known to at least half the audience (the ones below the age of ten) – presided over our trip to the Moon. A large rocket in the centre of the Arena was the transport with music and instruments providing the fuel. 
Prom 2: Bamberg Symphony – Jakub Hrůša conducts Smetana’s Má vlast – Joshua Bell plays Dvořák’s Violin Concerto
Saturday, July 20, 2019 |  This was a Prom of two halves – possibly of many smaller parts if one counts clapping between most movements of Má vlast. It is a brave promoter that starts a concert with a Concerto. Orchestras need time to settle in: an Overture? Perhaps that from The Bartered Bride (to keep this a Czech affair)? The Bamberg Symphony, also known, since 1993, as the Bavarian State Philharmonic, certainly needed such time – two movements of Dvořák’s Violin Concerto to be precise. ... on occasion the dots didn’t quite line up with those of the toe-tapping Joshua Bell. ... ...Jakub Hrůša hopelessly trying to steer the two. ... The bubbling waters of the ‘Vltava’ had the flutes effortlessly tripping over the fast-moving scale passages and though the tempo slowed slightly when the main string theme entered the music ebbed and flowed like the river it was set to depict. 
First Night of the BBC Proms 2019 – Karina Canellakis conducts BBC Singers, Symphony Chorus & Symphony Orchestra – Zosha Di Castri commission, Dvořák’s Golden Spinning Wheel, Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass
Friday, July 19, 2019 |  As old certainties fade the Last Night of the Proms has assumed a unique role in national life, albeit one that would have perplexed Henry Wood given that its ‘traditional’ second half post-dates him. The 150th-anniversary of his birth gives rise to one of the running threads of the new season. Another, woozier, theme takes off from the Apollo moon-landing fifty years ago, a cue “to explore the link between music, nature and environment, which to this day continues to inspire composers of every kind.” 
Lost in the Canyons of the Stars – Alan Davey’s Classical Source Blog – BBC Proms 2019 takes-off today, July 19
Friday, July 19, 2019 |  This being the fiftieth anniversary of the Moon Landings we begin the Proms with a new work by Canadian composer Zosha Di Castri, followed by The Planets and a new piece by Anna Thorvaldsdottir about deep-space travel. ... In the spirit of Sir Henry, there is something for everyone with a huge range of performers and performances for all to enjoy. 


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