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BBC Proms 2011: Highlights

Posted in BBC Radio 3, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Pianist Lang Lang, described by BBC Proms director Roger Wright as “arguably the best known classical artist in the world”, will become the first artist ever to perform at both the Proms in the Park and the Royal Albert Hall on the same night.

Classical music meets comedy at the Proms for the first time. Tim Minchin, the Australian performer, presents an evening of music and laughs with Sue Perkins, cabaret duo Kit and The Widow, pianist Danny Driver, soprano Susan Bullock and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra will take requests from the crowd in a highly unusual late night Prom. The audience will choose from a list of up to 300 pieces, none of which the orchestra has rehearsed.

The Spaghetti Western Orchestra will use rubber gloves and coat hangers to perform extracts from Sergio Leone film soundtracks. Roger Wright, controller of BBC Radio 3 and the director of the Proms, called them “five cracking musicians”.

Havergal Brian’s vast Gothic Symphony which has been rarely performed since it was composed in the 1920s will be played on 17 July when the 1,000 musicians required – including two orchestras and 10 choirs – are marshalled. Wright said: “Once we have fitted in the performers there will be hardly any room for the audience.”

Rossini’s William Tell is another work hardly ever performed. The opera lasts nearly five hours. Audiences will have a rare chance to hear this gripping story of Swiss nationalism conducted by the Royal Opera House music director, Antonio Pappano.

I can’t go on …

Lang Lang Murders Chopin, Dresden Staatskapelle Does Nothing

Posted in BBC Radio 3, Music with tags , , , , , , , on August 28, 2009 by Robin Gosnall


Lang Lang played the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 at the Royal Albert Hall last night. It sounded to me like he was tugging for Britain and China.

OK, I watched about 25 seconds of it, but he’s quite literally unwatchable. Sound only, still dodgy – plus the engineers aren’t doing the orchestra any favours. I did just sneak another glance at the emoting in the slow movement. Appalling.

I once went to the Proms with a friend who’s a horse vet. He wasn’t allowed to leave his pistol in the car, so in it came (before security checks). Had that happened yesterday there would have been a genuine murder.

Terribly boring stuff. Just a pity one of the world’s great orchestras on tour has to be a backing group for this.

So, I have to say, it wasn’t bad, it was dire – such rubato and exaggeration all round but still what did we expect and the Dresden Staatskapelle were adequate, no more. Naturally the Prommers went wild but they’d do that if the fire alarms went off, wouldn’t they?

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