As you know from previous posts, I love going to different concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and I’m also a huge fan of the Proms. The diversity of the Prom concerts put together over the season means also that even a seasoned Promenader or classical music aficionado will be challenged by some pieces performed and also learn to love or hate new composers/compositions.
Fortunately for me, Pod organises our Proms season by sending out a list of concerts that he and his wife are interested in attending a few weeks before they go on sale. I, together with other friends, reply with our choice of concerts that we’d love to join them for. Pod then patiently, and repeatedly, redials the booking line number at the moment the clock chimes 9am and until his call is placed in line with the thousands of others who are keen to secure Proms tickets. This year he was only 4,000(ish) in line and successfully managed to secure all the tickets requested. What a star and quite some feat of patience.
Tonight saw the first of my Proms season. Our party of four consisting of Pod and Helen, Pod’s brother Ciarán (pronounced ‘Kier-Ron’ (Irish)) and myself. We met first for a drink and bite to eat at The Queens Arms, a fabulous pub hidden in a Kensington Mews. Wonderful company, lots of tales and laughter together with great food setting us up perfectly for our short walk to the Royal Albert Hall, climbing the stairs to our second floor box and devouring a cooling ice-cream for dessert before the start of the performance.
Tonight’s programme consisted of pieces by Ravel, Holt and Duruflé (pronounced ‘doo-roo-flay’).
Conductor – Thierry Fischer.
Performed by the wonderful BBC National Orchestra of Wales together with the BBC National Chorus of Wales and the National Youth Choir of Wales.
Love love loved the pieces by Ravel. New pieces with which I was unfamiliar and ones that I would love to hear again and to once again lose myself in Ravel’s music. I found La Valse utterly mesmeric and could listen to this again and again.
Duruflé’s Requiem was, in the main, unknown to me. However some pieces I recall Mum performing as part of a Marlborough Summer School choral week and other pieces reminded me of long summers in Taizé some many moons ago. Again pieces that I’d love to listen to again.
Simon Holt’s world première of Morpheus Wakes however was a work that sadly didn’t do a thing for me. I found it jarring on the ear and wondered if the high pitched composition would find itself in a sci-fi film of the future (a genre of film that doesn’t appeal to me). Certainly, and sadly, not a piece of work that I want to listen to again.
That’s why I love the Proms programme – I always find something familiar, something challenging and something new in each and every Prom.
Ravel, Maurice (1875-1937) – Valses nobles et sentimentales, for orchestra
Holt, Simon (b. 1958) – Morpheus Wakes (BBC commission; world première)
Ravel, Maurice (1875-1937) – La Valse, for orchestra
Duruflé, Maurice (1902-1986) – Requiem