Making an Effort

To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also. – Igor Stravinsky

17th July – First Night of the Proms

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Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra

Conductor: Sakari Oramo

Piano: Lars Vogt

Baritone: Christopher Maltman

Choirs: BBC National Chorus of Wales, BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus

Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London

Nielsen: Maskarade – overture

Gary Carpenter – Dadaville BBC Comission world premiere

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K466

Sibelius Belshazzar’s Feast – suite  First performance at the Proms

Walton Belshazzar’s Feast

I had just been over at The Globe to watch Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for measure’ and quickly bought a sandwich to eat before I caught the tube to go and line up to prom in the Arena. I had initially thought of going to the top of RAH to lean on the bannister, but decided to try standing unassisted for a concert once again. I think I managed to spot the gentleman who informed me of the whole promoting process a couple of years ago, but unfortunately he was talking to some people and then quickly made his way back to the front. I was situated in the middle and over to the right a little. 

I will need to edit this later unfortunately as I returned from London to quickly get ready to fly back to Hong Kong and I am currently in Melbourne trying to write some thoughts before I forget and before I get too far behind in my blog posts! 

It’s great that as this is the year of both Nielsen and Sibelius anniversaries that the first Prom should have pieces by these composers. The concert started with Maskarade – a celebratory, jovial piece.
Then there was the commission by Carpenter. Unfortunately for me, some of these contemporary pieces I find difficult to digest. This had quite a lot of percussion and I find it difficult to enjoy due to an absence of a tune that I could grasp. It’s probably intellectual and stimulating for the composer and others but my favourite part were the fireworks at the end.

Lars Vogt was up next with Mozart’s piano concerto no. 20.

Here he is playing it last year with Daniel Harding and the Mahler Chamber orchestra
Sibelius’ Belshazzar’s feast was a contrast to that by Walton. This was an exotic rendition conjuring up the theme of Old Testament biblical times.

Walton’s Belshazzar’s feast was a rather stern and typically Waltonesque affair. The massed choir showed variation in their sound from reducing the sound by having only one line of singers singing to the whole choir producing a wall of sound. It was wonderful to experience but I did wonder what it was doing to my eardrums! The brass parts in this are great! At first you just think the orchestra is playing as normal as a unit. Then suddenly you realise that there is brass music coming from the right. Lo and behold, trumpets, trombones and tuba were situated to my right on the second balcony if this wasn’t enough, Walton had written this for an orchestra with two extra brass sections, so there was one opposite on the left side. For me, standing in the middle of the arena meant that I could experience live surround sound! Fantastic!


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