Thursday, 28 July 2016

Potato Fudge and the Proms

Will things start livening up at the Proms next month? In July, the fare was predictable, with rehashed reheated leftovers which were good first time round but not so exciting second time round.  Maybe this pasteurized blandness represents the Future of Classical Music, as defined by government thinktanks and BBC suits who think the public can't cope with real sustenance. Sir Henry Wood must be rolling in his grave!  He believed that the public would rise to the challenge of interesting work, and that ordinary people could develop listening skills. Now, instead, we get pabulum like Ten Pieces, catering to the lowest possible denominator, and to those who don't even want to pay attention.  "We don't like experts!" the end of civilization?

So here we are, coming to the halfway point in this year's Proms, what do we have ahead?  On Monday 1/8 I'm looking forward to John Storgårds conducting Nielsen 5 and Jörg Widmann's Armonica for glass harmonica. On 4/8,  Oliver Knussen conducts Reinbert de Leeuw Der nächtliche Wanderer. On 8/8 Esa Pekka Salonen conducts Schoenberg A Survivor from Warsaw, with Mahler's First   interesting combination! Janacek The Makropulos Affair on 19/8 will be a high point, with Karita Mattila and Jiří Bělohlávek.  I'll be listening to a lot (eg Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla with the CBSO on 27/8) but, while there are good things, there's a lot of not so good and little that's thrilling.  Some odd mismatches between performer and repertoire. 

So on to September when things wake up. Baldur Brönnimann conducts a very interesting late nighter on  2/9 with Ensemble Intercontemporain, and on 4/9 Mark Elder conducts the OAE in Rossini's Semiramide. In the Last Week, the Big Bands: The Berlin Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Berlin and Staatskapelle Dresden with Rattle, Barenboim and Thielemann. The media are playing this up as some kind of battle, but that's silly. People really into music don't need to play games with musicians as pawns. At this level there's no "competition", just excellence.  All is not lost, yet.

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