Almost down to earth after the first two weeks of the 2010 Proms. Simon Rattle conducts Tristan und Isolde Act 2 with Ben Heppner, Violeta Urmana. Rattle's conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Period instruments. Before that, a concert of organ transcriptions of Wagner's greatest hits.
Early August brings a crop of newish music. Pierre-Laurent Aimard will be playing but not in a programme up to his usual level (Nott conducts). On offer this week : Julian Anderson, Toru Takemitsu, and George Benjamin. The one to go for is the l;ate night Prom on 6th August. George Benjamin conducts the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, great programme - Knussen, Luke Bedford, Hans Abrahamsen.
Last year some idiot said that the Royal Albert Hall wasn't the right place for Mahler. Evidently not someone who's heard Mahler before, or at the Proms, where even mediocre performances can sound atmospheric. And there have been many utterly stupendous Mahler Proms, like Claudio Abbado's M3 a few years back.. Runnicles, with all respect, isn't in that league. Gergiev conducting M4 is more worrying. It's the symphony he has most trouble understanding. Camilla Tilling sings it very well but still.....No doubt , though, the crowds will be raving this gleefully. Especially, I suspect, the fellow who thinks Mahler doesn't belong in the Proms.
Much more worthwhile will be Ingo Metzmacher's M7 on 10/8 with DSO Berlin. This Prom includes Schreker Der Ferne Klang (Nachtstück) and Korngold's Violin Concerto. More than most conductors, Metzmacher's championed suppressed music without falling into the trap of making it overly retrogressive. Instead, he brings out its originality and genuine musical value.
On 3/9, Rattle's back with the Berliner Philharmoniker - Mahler 1 and Beethoven 4. The next day, they're doing a programme of Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Wagner and Strauss. Karita Mattila sings the Vier letzte Lieder.
There's been a lot said about the "two" Last Nights of the Proms. The usual jingoistic thing is still on, but there'll be a replica of the 1910 Prom.. Much less bombastic, much more music oriented. The significance? Part of the reason the jingoistic Last Night remains is because people think it's traditional, but it's not. The 1910 Prom shows that the "modern" Last Night is not sacred at all. Now that is a REALLY radical idea.
Please subscribe or bookmark the home page here if you like reading about the Proms. Usually I cover about 40 Proms and hopefully in an informed, non-superficial way. So if you want to join the party, please keep coming back !