Author Topic: Prom 41: BBCSO, Wigglesworth et al – Purcell (arr Talbot) & Britten  (Read 1078 times)

Offline HtoHe

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A disturbing number of defectors from last night’s Britten-based Prom was not nearly as much of a problem as some might have feared.  Mark Wigglesworth (for Jiří Bělohlávek), Alan Oke (for John Mark Ainsley) and Leigh Melrose (for Christopher Maltman), along with the advertised artists who did turn up, gave us a wonderful evening.

The concert – billed as ‘A recreation of a Britten concert conducted by the composer at the Proms in 1963 with a contemporary twist provided by Joby Talbot’ opened with Purcell’s Chacony in G minor adapted by Britten for the 1963 concert but given here in a new reading by Mr Talbot (obviously an unassuming young man as he took his applause from a stalls seat rather than bounding on to the platform for a bow).  I liked the piece very much – though I don’t know the original or the Britten, so didn’t have anything with which to compare it.  It was an elegant piece with the dance or procession element engagingly ornamented and an ethereal element supplied by various different bell sounds.  I must seek out a recording of the Purcell original. 

Next was another piece I’d never heard of: Britten’s Cantata misericordium; a setting of the Good Samaritan parable with Latin words written (if I understood the programme notes right) for the purpose by Patrick Wilkinson in the absence of a suitable traditional text (I must say that whoever made the English translation read ‘robbed and stripped!  Where has my ass gone?’ should be ashamed of themselves!). It was a very moving piece (especially, perhaps, in view of the events of the previous week; specifically the fake ‘good Samaritans’ that made the national news).  Its obscurity is a bit of a mystery though, I suppose, the personnel required  make it a bit hard to programme.  And the next two pieces, though I have heard them before, are hardly regulars in our concert halls either.

It must be at least 15 years since I heard Sinfonia da Requiem, and I’d rather forgotten how effective it is – particularly the Dies Irae movement, which seems to me to convey chaos and confusion rather than the more usual anger and pain.  I thought Wigglesworth handled this, of all the pieces on the programme, particularly well.

The Spring Symphony, I know from an old programme, was last heard by me in 1995 in a performance by the Philharmonia under John Eliot Gardner and, coincidentally, with a young John Mark Ainsley.  I really can’t remember the performance well enough to compare, but I don’t imagine he was much better in the Peter Pears part than Alan Oke was last night.  And the two female principals – who were as advertised – were also impressive.  Amanda Roocroft is always a delight whether she’s Ellen Orford, Eva Pogner or  the soprano soloist in a work like this; and Christine Rice, perhaps the best of a very good bunch, was wonderful – crystal clear diction, effortless power.  The choral singing was also generally fine, though I thought it took some time to get the balance right in the Cantata – one of the early verses was barely audible to me in the fourth row of the arena so I dread to think what it sounded like in the circle.  The Trinity Boys Choir got, and deserved, several hearty rounds of applause for their performance in the Spring Symphony.


I made a special trip for this one Prom (back home now, returning to London on Thursday) as ridiculously cheap advance train fares made this a practical propoosition; and I’m very glad I got to hear it in the hall, though I imagine the radio broadcast will have been pretty good, too.

Offline marbleflugel

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Re: Prom 41: BBCSO, Wigglesworth et al – Purcell (arr Talbot) & Britten
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2011, 10:45:40 am »
I hope you didnt have to endure Calcutta tram conditions thereby...sounds like a great gig- I wish I had time to take it al in this year. One for the iplayer I think. I have a lot of time for Joby Talbot.

Offline Brassbandmaestro

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Re: Prom 41: BBCSO, Wigglesworth et al – Purcell (arr Talbot) & Britten
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2011, 07:35:23 am »
On the whole, condisering most of the advertised artists(I was at this Prom), were not there, you wouldnt have guessed that these artists were  at short noticed. The only gripe I would have at this concert, was the Purcell. A rather scrappy performance of this Joby Talbot arrangment?(I thought anyway|). As soon as they launched into the Britten works, they immediately were in the Premier League of orchestras again. The Trinity School Boys' Choir sang quite fervently I thought and kept their own. I am hoping to listen again to this concert at somepoint.
I believe in the power of music. It makes life more exciting. Valery Gergiev.