Archive for royal albert hall

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 …

Daleks Invade Royal Albert Hall: BBC Dumbing Down Scandal

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on July 30, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

A Doctor Who Prom is not a new idea.

There has been a children/family type Prom for many years and they’ve always been very popular.

It’s an excellent way of getting children to hear a real orchestra and I don’t regard it as “dumbing down” at all.

Purists seem to think that every single Prom conducted by Henry Wood himself consisted of Wagner, Beethoven, Richard Strauss, etc., etc.

That’s simply not true.

Camille O’Sullivan

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on December 4, 2009 by Robin Gosnall

Last Saturday, Camille O’Sullivan stood on stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall in front of 5,000 people. She wore a black strapless dress, fishnet stockings, and red sequinned shoes. She sang five songs, shook her dark hair loose over her shoulders, and told the audience she was so nervous about performing here that she hadn’t eaten for six months. Then a woman’s voice came from the stalls; not unfriendly, but curious. “Who are you?” she shouted.

Read more …

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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Posted in BBC Radio 3, Music with tags , , , , , , , on July 16, 2009 by Robin Gosnall


The BBC Proms starts tomorrow. An interesting fun piece on the Today programme the other day, someone complaining about inappropriate Proms behaviour, mainly too much clapping between movements and in particular too quick to clap after the beauty of the music. His interesting point was that the immediate silence after a piece is part of the music, which it is, of course.

I’d be a bit fiercer about it though – the phrase “too much clapping between movements” will not do because any clapping between movements is unacceptable – a symphony, for example, is a “sounding together” usually split into four movements but by careful use of key-sequence and often thematic cross-reference, the composer cleverly makes it a single piece. Applause between movements is an interruption of the continuity of a work. Applause crashing in after the thoughtful end of a piece is equally offensive. I recall Gergiev refusing to lower his arms for at least a whole minute after conducting Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (which dies away to silence at the end), thereby forcing the audience not to move or make a sound. Maybe immediate applause is not disturbing after a joyful conclusion (as mentioned on the Today programme and elsewhere, giving Beethoven’s Choral Symphony as an acceptable example) but I am not interested in who can shout or clap the soonest or loudest. Could we perhaps have concert bouncers in the Albert Hall to remove the clappers and hold them in stocks erected outside the concert hall until the rest of the audience leaves – maybe throwing cabbages or decaying fruit at the interrupters as they pass?

In the 2001 Proms, Leonard Slatkin asked the audience to refrain from clapping after he performed Barber’s Adagio for Strings in memory of the 9/11 victims.

Some clapped.

In the “Beethoven Experience” weekend at the Royal Festival Hall in London about 20 years ago, Roger Norrington positively encouraged the audience to applaud between movements of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony. His reasoning was “that’s what they would have done at the time.”

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