Monday, 1 July 2013

Proms 2013 – A great season of music

I’ve just been browsing the concert listings for this year’s Proms in the latest issue of Gramophone magazine and was moved to wonder if this is possibly one of the best Prom seasons ever. Given that this is the 119th season of the Proms, that is probably something of a big claim. Either way, this year, Controller of the Proms, Roger Wright, has done a brilliant job in balancing all the demands when putting on the world’s largest classical music festival.

Just glancing over the forthcoming concerts I am struck by the sheer variety on offer. The centenaries and anniversaries have, of course, been covered with, not only a complete Ring cycle from Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin, but also Tristan and Isolde from Semyon Bychkov and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Tannhäuser from Donald Runnicles and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Parsifal from Sir Mark Elder and the Halle Orchestra.

Lutosławski is represented by his Variations on a theme of Paganini, Cello Concerto, Symphonic Variations, Piano Concerto, Concerto for Orchestra and Paroles tissées. Benjamin Britten has his Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, Sinfonia de Requiem, a semi-staged Billy Budd from Sir Andrew Davis and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Canticles, Prelude and Fugue and Phaedra. George Lloyd has his final work Requiem performed alongside Britten’s A Boy was Born at a late night Prom and his HMS Trinidad March at the Last Night.

British music is very well served generally with works by Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Holst, Walton and Arnold as well as some unexpected treats from Edmund Rubbra and Sir Granville Bantock who has no less than five works performed. Sir Michael Tippett is very well represented in a number of concerts giving this still underrated composer a boost.

The current generation of British composers are well represented by Colin and David Matthews, the latter’s A Vision of the Sea receiving its world premiere. Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Frieze also gets its world premiere as does John McCabe’s Joybox.

Period instrument performances are not forgotten with Sir John Elliot Gardner and his English Baroque soloist and Monteverdi Choir giving us Bach Oratorios. The main Viennese classics are not ignored with plenty of Mozart, Beethoven, Bruckner, Brahms and Mahler as well as the great Slavic composers Dvorak, Tchaikovsky and even Borodin and Glazunov. The USA is not left out, with works by Conlon Nancarrow, Frank Zappa, Philip Glass, Morton Feldman being featured.

Looking at the number of artists appearing is just as impressive with far too many to mention in this short blog.

With a breadth of range covering music from Gesualdo through Stockhausen to contemporary composers, Roger Wright has pulled off the seemingly impossible. If there is not a feast of concerts here for everyone this year then you will probably never be satisfied.

Have a look for yourself on the BBC Proms website to see the complete listing of concerts

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