Proms

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JW
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Proms

Post by JW » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:37 pm

So what are your Proms highlights this year? Loved the Rachmaninoff All Night Vigil. Those basses!
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JW
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Re: Proms

Post by JW » Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:15 pm

Was at the Swing Prom last Sunday afternoon. Really impressed with Hiromi on the piano. So many jazz performers are consummate musicians.
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alan29
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Re: Proms

Post by alan29 » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:41 am

I heard that one on the radio. It was electrifying.
I have recorded the BBC4 ones for later consumption.

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Re: Proms

Post by Peter » Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:10 pm

Dare I, on a Catholic forum, nominate the trio of concerts that made up the Reformation Day on 20th August? :?

The first was an organ recital taking Bach's "Orgelbüchlein" as its inspiration but including chorale preludes by other composers, up to the present day, as well. One of them was by Samuel Wesley and the programme noted that although most of the preludes were by Lutheran composers, he was the nephew of the founder of Methodism. The concert was enjoyable, but sparsely attended and so gave Promenaders the chance to lie on the floor and prepare for lots more standing later in the day.

The second was described as "A Patchwork Passion" and took excerpts from Passion settings and related oratorios by Johann Walter (roughly contemporary with Luther), Schütz, JS Bach, Handel, CPE Bach, Mendelssohn (Christus), Loewe (Little Passion Music), Stainer (The Crucifixion), Charles Wood, Sofia Gubaidulina and Arvo Pärt to create a Passion narrative that, although incomplete in detail, followed the correct chronology - with two exceptions: the Introduction and "Father, forgive them" from Haydn's "Seven Last Words" came in sequence of composition rather than narrative and the "Commandment of Faith" from Gubaidulina's "St John Passion" was taken from the discourse after the Last Supper in Jn 14, but these did not jar in any way. "Father, into thy hands" from Sir James MacMillan's "Seven Last Words" provided an effective conclusion to the narrative, after which the final chorale from JS Bach's "St John Passion" closed the concert.

Just as the organ recital included music by a Methodist as well as Lutherans, the Patchwork Passion also included music by Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox composers.

After such a moving experience I wasn't sure I needed another Passion, but nevertheless stayed on for Bach's "St John Passion", presented as part of a reconstruction of service given in 1739, with some numbers reorchestrated to reflect the forces available to Bach on that occasion, and with choral motets and congregational chorales (preceded by organ preludes) in which the audience was invited to join (in English - a minor point of inauthenticity!). The other point of inauthenticity was that we had an interval where the sermon would have been, but we were invited to provide our own sermons by discussing it among ourselves. At the end it seemed inappropriate to applaud, as it felt to me more like a service than a concert, though of course we did so as it had all been done so well. Not only great music but interesting from a liturgical point of view as well. :D

(Maybe my point at the end about applause is a bit too fussy: after all, I've sometimes heard applause for a visiting choir and often for a regular organist after Mass, though I suppose one could argue in the latter case that as an organ voluntary follows the "Ite missa est" it is not part of the Mass and can therefore be regarded as a performance. :? )

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Re: Proms

Post by JW » Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:48 pm

Sadly, organ recitals at the proms don't attract large audiences! I was at the St John Passion - brilliant, though I almost got blasted away by the organ on the last verse of 'Nun danket'! the St John is one of my favourite Bach works and it was a fitting end to the Reformation celebration.

Samuel Wesley was the subject of my dissertation when I did my Hons degree. An interesting fact about him is that he converted briefly to Catholicism in his late teens. Have a look at his Wikipedia entry for more about this. Wesley was also a great champion of Bach's organ music; he contested Charles Burney's harsh criticisms of Bach in prolonged correspondence with him and eventually changed Burney's mind after performing the Goldberg Variations to him as a duet with Vincent Novello. He also included transciptions of Bach's organ music in his recitals; again, these were written out as organ duets to allow them to be played on the limited organs of Wesley's day. Of course, Mendelssohn was the one who really popularised Bach's work a few years later. Wesley and Mendelssohn met briefly, again there are more details in the Wikipedia article.

I'm not sure how much of Wesley's music has been played at the Proms, but he deserves to be heard more, not just the organ music. There are some lovely 'Galant' style symphonies and some choral music. In particular, I would be intrigued to hear the 'Missa de Spiritu Sancto,' composed after his conversion and sent to Pope Pius VI; it lies in the Vatican archives. It's scored for solo voices and chorus, with strings, oboes, horns, trumpets and drums, so there are probably some quite loud bits!
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Gwyn
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Re: Proms

Post by Gwyn » Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:05 am

That's fascinating JW. Thank you for a really informative post re. Wesley.

Hiromi's performance was simply stunning, it blew me away. What a gifted musician. What a skilled performer.

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Re: Proms

Post by organist » Sat Sep 30, 2017 11:07 am

Having attended 61 proms I have my favourites. I agree that the Reformation Day was excellent especially the second concert. I felt that it should have been amalgamated with the organ recital as that did not attract a large audience. 1 p.m. is hardly a convenient time for organists and others coming from church! I was not happy with the choice of congregational chorales at the Passion - why not one of the chorales from the Passion itself? The real highlights were both John Eliot Gardiner who have severely criticised in the past. The Berlioz Damnation of Faust and the late night Schutz and Bach were superb! A very good season - pity the Prommers were treated with little respect. A particular annoyance is that online purchasers can go in right up until start time whereas season ticket holders must arrive 30 minutes early or end up at the end of the day queue. :( Twice we fell foul of this and I just did not try on some popular nights e.g. Gurrelieder. Oklahoma came over far better on TV than in the hall - spoken dialogue just does not get heard in the gallery. :D

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Re: Proms

Post by Peter » Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:16 pm

organist wrote:
Sat Sep 30, 2017 11:07 am
... I was not happy with the choice of congregational chorales at the Passion - why not one of the chorales from the Passion itself? The real highlights were both John Eliot Gardiner who have severely criticised in the past. The Berlioz Damnation of Faust and the late night Schutz and Bach were superb! A very good season - pity the Prommers were treated with little respect. A particular annoyance is that online purchasers can go in right up until start time whereas season ticket holders must arrive 30 minutes early or end up at the end of the day queue. :( Twice we fell foul of this and I just did not try on some popular nights e.g. Gurrelieder. ... :D
The melodies of the chorales are pitched too high for the "congregation" to join in and rehearsing the audience to sing in four parts would have been impractical. The programme note explained the choice of hymns, which was clearly historically informed. I found it worked very well.

Unfortunately I missed the two Gardiner proms, but I did get to "Gurrelieder", where thanks to a weekend promming pass, which is effectively a mini-season ticket and gives access to the season ticket holders' queue, I had a better place in the Arena than I would have had on my usual day ticket. I did get there considerably earlier than 30 minutes before the start of the performance, though!

There are good reasons for the 30-minute cut-off and I don't regard arriving 30 minutes before a concert as onerous, but I'm surprised that on-line bookers can use the season queue after that time: maybe it's because there are very few of them.

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Re: Proms

Post by organist » Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:16 pm

It is unacceeptable that online bookers can go in up to the start time while the rest have to arrive from work and other places 30 minutes before th time. Complaints have been made. I was not enthusiastic about the Rachmaninoff vespers and wished the choir could have sung their own national music rather than Russian repertoire. The sound was light weight.

JW
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Re: Proms

Post by JW » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:30 pm

I loved the Vespers and thought it sounded less Russian opera and more liturgical. It was great to get a different perspective. I heard a version conducted by Stephen Layton earlier this year and he produced a more Russian sound.

I'm afraid I like my comforts so buy tickets instead of promming. Can't think of a good reason why prommers shouldn't arrive at the same time as everyone else though.

By the way, did anyone else hear the Red Army choir singing 'It's a long way to Tipperary' on Radio 3 this morning?
It was hilarious. I didn't know Radio 3 were into comedy! :D
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Gwyn
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Re: Proms

Post by Gwyn » Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:51 am

By the way, did anyone else hear the Red Army choir singing 'It's a long way to Tipperary' on Radio 3 this morning?
Yes. It was delightful. 8)

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