Monday, 11 July 2011

Eat your heart out, Murdoch - BBC Proms, July

Rupert Murdoch hates the BBC and wants curbs on its services. Well, if the free market was such a wonderful thing, why should he fear competition? The print media is dead. The real money lies in digital communications, so it's perfectly sensible to shaft trashy tabloids. They're more trouble than they're worth.  These days the world is controlled, almost invisibly, by digital networks and shadowy private organizatiuons that are above the law. So be very, very wary.

That's why I support the BBC Proms. Both the Proms and the BBC (once separate things) were created by idealists who believed in altruistic public service. They're not perfect, but consider the alternative. So come and enjoy the world's biggest street party even if you're thousands of miles from the Royal Albert Hall. You won't be alone, with milllions over the globe tuning in, online, live and on demand.

This year's First Night celebration should be a wow - Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek who has brought Czech music right to the fore in this country, and on its own pungent, idiomatic terms. This is Janáček’s Rite of Spring, a passionate invocation of an ancient spirit that's both Slavic and universal. It's savage, primitive and wildly uplifting. Extremely good singers who've worked lots with Bělohlávek. He's stepping down soon as Chief Conductor of the BBC SO, so make the most of hearing him live. Decades from  now, people will be remembering him like the other greats who've enhanced the Proms.

Saturday night's Big Gala is Rossini William Tell. All the stops are being pulled out for this because it's Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra and Chorus of the Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome, which he's led for several years. He's brought them to the Proms before, and if anything, his work with them is the best he's done. This should be spectacular. There's a recording in the offing, too.

Sunday is Havergal Brian's monster Gothic Symphony. Fifteen years ago, Brian's music was known more by reputation than actually by being heard. Now there's a website so comprehensive that anyone can be an instant expert. Brian has a cultish following, so his image has cachet. This Prom sold out within hours because the symphony is humungous and needs a setting like the Royal Albert Hall and the Proms to give it room.

Monday, Myung-Whun Chung conducts the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. Messiaen of course, Chung's speciality, but I'm listening for Pascal Dusapin, whose significance is much under-rated. Morning in Long Island is a big piece for piano and orchestra, and a BBC commission.  Another Dusapin premiere on 27 July, a concerto for string quartet and orchestra with the Arditti Quatet as "soloists".

Although I listen to most Proms, and write about some 40 or so each year, the next "big" prom for me is Verdi Requiem on Sunday 24th. Semyon Bychkov conducts, singers include Poplavskaya, Calleja, Furlanetto and Pentcheva.

All this funded thru BBC Licence fees which aren't compulsory if you don't listen or watch TV, digital or otherwise (some people don't).  Eat your heart out, Rupert Murdoch.

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