thu 25/04/2024

BBC Proms 2023 preview: theartsdesk recommends | reviews, news & interviews

BBC Proms 2023 preview: theartsdesk recommends...

BBC Proms 2023 preview: theartsdesk recommends...

Two extraordinary operas, great artists of all generations and a strong Magyar flavour

True partnership: Yuja Wang and Klaus Mäkelä (Prom 27)Nicolas Brodard

Folk are so quick to jump upon the programme for the world’s biggest and longest music festival when the prospectus appears, usually lambasting it for the absence of what they personally want to see, or seizing upon the popularizing Proms as if there were some sort of dumbing-down.

There isn’t, and at the core of David Pickard’s wise planning the usual balance of old and new, from a host of sensational performers, should guarantee the usual quota of hits. Contemporary composers and women conductors have a big presence.And I still have to pinch myself that it's still possible to stand in the best place in the Royal Albert Hall, the Arena, for £8.

Operas-in-concert are especially spectacular this year: Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites from Glyndebourne – as Robin Ticciati put it when I talked to him just before the opening, there will be ‘more incense’ in the Proms semi-staging, less of the sheer violence in Barrie Kosky’s powerful production – and Berlioz’s Les Troyens, in which I’m especially anticipating wonders from the Didon of Paula Murrihy, a great Octavian in Irish National Opera’s Der Rosenkavalier. The Aeneas and Cassandra, respectively Michael Spyres and Alice Coote, couldn’t be stronger, either. (Pictured below by Richard Hubert Smith: the astounding Golda Schultz as the Second Prioress at the centre in the Glyndebourne Carmelites).  David NicePoulenc DialoguesHere, on the day of the First Night, are a few choices from some of theartsdesk’s classical/opera team.

Prom 21 I'm looking forwatd to this American Prom, with .Annelien Van Wauwe as sooloist in Copland's jazzy Clarinet Concerto, and Ryan Bancroft mastering choral and orchestra forces in John Adams' thrilling Harmionium. Bernard Hughes

Prom 27 The phenomenal Finnish conductor Klaus Mäkelä’s first time with the “house orchestra”, the BBC Symphony, in a typically eclectic programme which should see sparks fly all round. Jimmy López Bellido has been a Makela staple, and knows how to please a crowd without resorting to banality; his Perú negro should put everyone in the right mood. Makela’s real-life partner Yuja Wang, one of the world’s very greatest pianists, wowed even Liszt sceptics last year; her Rachmaninov Paganini Rhapsody can’t fail to scintillate. And it’s good to have a Finnish conductor and an American soloist in a very unEnglish work, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast – a firecracker made for the Proms. David Nice

Prom 34 Ligeti’s Requiem is always an event, and it’s the perfect piece to fill the spacious Albert Hall. Add to that conductor Edward Gardner’s keen ear for detail, and the trademark precision of the London Philharmonic, and it promises to be a memorable performance. Gavin Dixon  Ivan Fischer and the Buadpest Festival Orchestra at the PromsProms 37-9 Three spectaculars this year from the Budapest Festival Orchestra and its great founder-conductor Iván Fischer (pictured above at the Proms by Chris Christodoulou). The last one has the highest paprika count, with centenarian Ligeti and the gorgeous Third Piano Concerto by Bartók. The Hungarian presence in the first one, in addition to players and conductor, comes from Andras Schiff playing the Schumann concerto. And the middle one is a real curiosity: the audience makes a choice from a bran tub of 200 works. Sebastian Scotney


Dora PekacevicProm 40: I'm intrigued by Countess Dora Pejačević (pictured right) and especially this big Fsharp minor Symphony, composed during the First World War when she served as a nurse..Sakari Oramo conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in its Proms premiere. We'll see. Brahm's Second Piano Concerto, here with Martin Helmchen as soloist, is always a joy. Stephen Walsh


 Prom 43  It has been five years since the world premiere of Kurtag's Beckett-inspired opera Fin-de-Partie (Endgame) in Milan - enough time to build anticipation for the Hungarian composer's first opera, composed at the astonishing age of 92. A first word and a perhaps a last, on the form: what a way to crown a career.  Alexandra Coghlan

Prom 49  A rare, intriguing outing for an exotic curiosity: Schumann’s Orientalist oratorio-cantata-song cycle hybrid,  Das Paradies und die Peri, with Simon Rattle, the LSO and Chorus, and soloists including Lucy Crowe and Magdalena Kožená. Boyd Tonkin Iestyn Davies at the PromsProm 53: Counter-tenor Iestyn Davies (pictured above at last year's Proms by Chris Christodoulou) has delivered some of the most exquisite interpretations of the baroque repertoire. Here he collaborates with the period-instrument group The English Concert for a late night concert that will include two of Bach’s solo cantatas and Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. Rachel Halliburton

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