sun 18/08/2019

BBC Proms: Little, BBCSO, Davis/ Late Night Grainger | reviews, news & interviews

BBC Proms: Little, BBCSO, Davis/ Late Night Grainger

BBC Proms: Little, BBCSO, Davis/ Late Night Grainger

Disappointing Elgar, juicy big-band Grainger - and a dazzling late-nighter

June Tabor: six minutes of solo transcendentalism in the Albert HallJudith Burrows. All Proms images below by Chris Christodoulou

They came in their thousands again last night, most – I’m guessing – for “the Elgar”. Lacking faith that Tasmin Little could fill the enormous soul of that most elusive of violin concertos – a prejudice, alas, fulfilled - I put my money on the polytonal jungle Percy Grainger grows from pastoral seeds at the heart of his wacky In a Nutshell Suite. Yet unforgettably though Sir Andrew Davis swept it along, even Grainger was overshadowed by the lone, late-night transcendentalism of folk singer June Tabor.

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Surprised by by David's reference to "Gainger's original". 'Shepherd's Hey' was a morris tune long before Grainger got his hands on it. Totally agree about June Tabor - spellbinding.

Infelicitous choice of words, I admit, Mike - I know as well as you and Kathryn Tickell (who charmingly told us how she'd borrowed from Percy, who borrowed himself, so she was borrowing back) that PG isn't first in the line. I meant in that late-evening context that the Grainger arrangements were supposed to be the bedrock. But they didn't always come out so well - you can't improve upon La Tabor's single line in 'Shallow Brown'. The male-chorus version sounds lugubrious by comparison.

It's remarkable how many of David Nice's reviews mention Havergal Brian's Gothic Symphony. Though he disliked the Symphony it seems to have got under his skin.

Under my skin the music itself didn't get, Rob - though the hundreds of comments here and elsewhere certainly did. I just think it's worth bringing up yardsticks of lesser-known music that seems to me to achieve comparable aims if I think it's relevant. No-one's making much of a fuss about In a Nutshell (first performance at the Proms, ditto Sibelius's Scenes Historiques II) and yet it has some similar ambitions and novelties, and (again, as it seems to me) hits its target.

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