BBC Proms 2010 (Opening Night: July 16th)

Your favorite summer entertainment is here: BBC Proms 2010. This Friday is Mahler Time, but Saturday and Sunday look promising as well with Wagner and Verdi – let the fun begin!

[Needless to say, for those of us not in the UK at the moment, the fun is made possible by BBC3 Radio]

Check out the concert guide here.

Launching our 150th-anniversary celebrations of Mahler’s birth, his ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ begins a weekend-long flourish of three towering works combining voices and orchestra.

Setting a hymn to the divine creative spark alongside an exaltation of the feminine spirit from Goethe’s Faust, Mahler created a work of unprecedented scale and impact. The BBC SO gave its UK premiere 80 years ago under Proms founder-conductor Henry Wood.

Tonight’s massed choirs lavish on it the force of over 400 adult and children’s voices.

  • Mahler Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ (82 mins)
  • There will be no interval
  • Mardi Byers soprano
  • Twyla Robinson soprano
  • Malin Christensson soprano
  • Stephanie Blythe mezzo-soprano
  • Kelley O’Connor mezzo-soprano
  • Stefan Vinke tenor
  • Hanno Müller-Brachmann bass-baritone
  • Tomasz Konieczny bass
  • Choristers of St Paul’s Cathedral
  • Choristers of Westminster Abbey
  • Choristers of Westminster Cathedral
  • BBC Symphony Chorus
  • Crouch End Festival Chorus
  • Sydney Philharmonia Choirs
  • BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Jiří Bělohlávek conductor
  • 8 thoughts on “BBC Proms 2010 (Opening Night: July 16th)

    1. “Mahler’s spectacular ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ launches the 2010 BBC Proms. “Try to imagine the whole universe beginning to ring and resound. There are no longer human voices, but planets and suns revolving.” So Mahler described his Eighth Symphony”.
      Speculatively Onticologicaltastic. No, seriously, I agree it’s a wonderful piece.

      • Seriously, you’d think the multiple schools of OOO would be more interested in music (especially folks like Luigi Russolo or Pierre Schaeffer/Pierre Henry), but I have a sneaking suspicion that the internationally known founders are musically illiterate (or, what’s worth, like your usual Mozart/Brahms stuff and think themselves to be very cultured and informed)…

    2. My taste for Mahler and Bruckner has never been very strong. I like long sections, but don’t usually want the whole long piece. I had to look up, in fact, to see if this could possibly be the piece I’d been forced to sing in chorus in Aspen Music School one of two summers I went as teenager (this used to be essentially a Juilliard faculty summer affair, and it was very both bizarre and wonderful, but Aspen doesn’t have much to do with the real world–I don’t care for summer music programs, they always seem inferior somehow to the ‘real season’ in the cities, but there are many musicians who prefer this bucolic bullshit–which doesnt’ mean some time I once spent alone on one of the mountains above Aspen wasn’t AWESOME, the Rockies are quite frightening in their hugeness. The only other time I went to a summer music festival was Fontainebleau, that was both more satisfying and more amateurish than Aspen, because I had Boulanger, and all the Casadesus were alive and teaching and performing there, PLUS…we had all our lessons and master classes by Nadia in the palace, where she imagined herself a musical heir to Louis XIV. I got caught misbehaving that summer, but got away with it. In any case, Aspen led to Juilliard (to me, superior by far) and Fontainebleau led to a year in Paris (superior by far to me, although in Nadia’s case, she was just as into Dubois Treatise Torture either place.) I barely remember the Mahler, and every time I had to sing in chorus (including under Leonard Bernstein at Juilliard) I always hated it. Anyway, wasn’t the Mahler.

      Yes, you’re right about the musical illiteracy and good point about ‘heard our Mozart (we LOVE Mozart!) and Brahms, even, but remember you have your doubts about Wagner. I think it was right around then, maybe only 3 years ago, that I started listening more seriously to Mahler and Bruckner. But to me, I have no doubts about Wagner’s music and so maybe we are talking about something of interest here. If I had TIME, I think I could enjoy listening to Mahler and Bruckner over and over, but I must not think the time is quite worth it. I will, however, listen to Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippett over and over, so what you gonna do? At some point, is is just what pleases us, that we’re comfortable with. The thrust in Beethoven and Wagner is irresistible to me, much as I adore Haydn and Mozart too. You find out about what matters to you (at many levels and maybe in many different domains of art and other serious human endeavour) by whether eventually they start coming to mind as experiences you want to repeat. I know I want to hear The Flying Dutchman again, that I think about Parsifal all the time, eveyrthing about it, it means something to me. I think about Liszt, who also ‘Has something’ that works for me, even though Liszt wrote a lot of trash. He was somehow illumined. I’m sure Mahler and Bruckner are too, I really don’t have any idea why it didn’t even occure to me to listen to this.

      • Didn’t even mention that is was the 2nd ‘Resurrection’ Symphony we sang in Aspen, under Walter Suskind, I believe. He was always there. Aspen was a very overly-affluent sort of summer place, and Fontainebleau was much simpler (despite the lodging and the food being preferable.) Aspen was sort of fake, except that there were good concerts in the festival. Adele Marcus used to try to play the Chopin B Minor Sonata every year, and always had famous memory slips; it was thoroughly ridiculous. Some of these old ‘piano-madams’ were quite violent, but Adele I always steered clear of, although she was the most practical in terms of pushing her students into undeserved moments of piano stardom. I managed to get Ilona Kabos at Juilliard, who was even more chic, but didn’t give a shit about any but her already-established students in terms of putting energy, although I liked her a great deal, she was a fine musician (you should hear her lovely recording of the Liszt Chrismas Pieces, she was very big on Liszt, had done her conservatory work at the Franz Liszt Academy, etc., and could even make you think a dumb Paganini-Liszt Etude was a piece of profound importance in terms of tempi taken, etc., it was interesting, very flamboyant Hungarian).

        IN any case, a lot of the Curtis students and descendants of Ruldolph Serkin’s lot, like Andre-Michel Schub, an old friend of mine I haven’t seen for 30 years or more, probably spend their summers at Tanglewood or Marlborough. I’ve always like the idea of year-round Juilliard, with a month off maybe three times a year, but some of these bourgeois chamber music types (and they all are that) like these ‘lovely bucolic places’ in which to ‘understand Schubert’, and blah and blah and blah.

        Now, a season at Bayreuth or even Edinburgh and Aldeburgh would be another thing, just to hear the music. I was supposed to play at Edinburgh back in 2002, but it didn’t turn out to be practical, and my solution was typically outrageous: Instead of getting my (truly) lovely ‘patroness’ to arrange the concert in Scotland, I got her to take me out for Kir Royals and Filet at the Pierre Hotel on 5th Avenue. I’m sure she got my number pretty fast. Adorable lady, though, lives in Chelsea, London.

      • I go back and forth between really enjoying Haydn/Mozart and the usual crowd and really hating them (this last maybe due to American influence, since every fucking symphony only plays what “the people” will buy the tickets too and, surprise surprise, the people like the same stuff over and over again). I think lately I’ve been on the “liking” streak – Mozart’s piano sonatas (simple but enjoyable and often very well put together) and Haydn’s string quartet have been my favorite choice. Also Gubaidulina’s piano sonatas – have you heard/played them?

    3. No, never heard of Gubaidulina, but while I’m thinking about it, the Mozart Sonata in F Major, K. 533 u. 497 I played a great deal, and it’s more complex than usual. A bit more severe than most of the piano sonatas, and not played so often. I’ve always been nuts about it. Let me see if there’s a YouTube…WOW! did I ever! Do you know this pianist?

      Superb sense of structure, I like this better than Perahia recording. You will find the 2nd movement nearby on the sidebar thing. And DIG that middle section of the 2nd movement, as it makes this almost ‘nightmare-running-in-place and can’t move” semi-chromatic ascent back into F Major. This is such subtle Mozart that you don’t hear it too often. I don’t see the 3rd movement (which was written earlier, and is even more ‘Cuckoo Clock’ than the first movement.

      BUT, there’s more. INcredibly, on the same page, this marvelous kid is playing that Liszt-Paganini Etude in E Flat I was talking about. I think it’s too dry for Liszt, his Mozart is better, he doesn’t know from lusciousness, but it’s still very fine, just a bit wrongly-placed crispness. But the Mozart is the best I’ve ever heard it. Okay, let me get the Liszt link so you can hear that too. I used to love to play it, as you can get very theatrical with it.

      Oh, young Mr. Kirill is quite a find!

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