fri 20/09/2019

BBC Proms: Wang, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Litton | reviews, news & interviews

BBC Proms: Wang, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Litton

BBC Proms: Wang, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Litton

An amiably eccentric evening that slightly misses the core of its dedicatee

Conductor Andrew Litton: bouncing around like a rubber ball, busily keeping track

Roger Wright’s reign as director of the BBC Proms has luckily spared us some of the more desperate themed programming that ran through the seasons in Nicholas Kenyon’s day. "Music and Shakespeare", I remember; music and the sea; and one year of Spain, Spain and Spain. I never wanted to hear another castanet again. But individual concerts still need careful planning. And if you’re hunting for a convenient hook, the name of Serge Koussevitzky – fiery Russian conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 25 years, double-bass player, minor composer, famed promoter of the new – is as plausible a hook as any. Also, this is his anniversary year: he died in June, 1951.

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The fast movements of Bartok's 2nd should have spoken just as much to the listener's heart, really - they're neither toccatas or parallel octaves/sixths/martellati etudes. Most music lovers must feel now that this work is nothing but grinding music and maddening verbosity. Sad conclusion to celebrating Bartok with all his piano concertos, as only Bavouzet did something valuable with the 1st.

'This three-hour Prom spent much time darting around on Koussevitzky's fringe' ........or perhaps Wright has something against his double-bass concerto of 1905, a milestone in the instrument’s admittedly small repertoire..." Hear, hear!!!

I was very relieved that this review was not written by David Nice and am grateful to Geoff Brown for reviewing the Bax sympathetically - I thought that it was a great performance of a great work. I found Prokofiev's 4th Symphony oddly uninspiring and it has nothing of the urgency of the Third, Fifth or Sixth symphonies.

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