Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Promming It: The Big Jurowski

The summer months not only signal cricket season (much to my chagrin and John's joy), but another series of events that are much more to my liking:  the BBC Proms.  Yes, that's right people, it's Proms time - and it's been Proms time for a couple months now and the good news is that it don't stop until mid-September.  Take that, cricket afficionados.
Anyways, while I was lying awake one morning before work, I heard a quiet 'swoosh' near my flat door and tiptoed over to see what had been delivered.  "Thought this might be of interest," said the post-it on the pocket-sized Proms guide in my ever-so-thoughtful neighbor's recognizable scrawl.  Happily, I tucked it into my purse and took it out during my tube ride to work, circling all the concerts and dog-earing the pages that interested me.
Perhaps I should explain.  The Proms is an eight-week classical music "festival" of sorts, which consists of a series of orchestral classical music concerts that are held primarily at the Royal Albert Hall, with the last night broadcast on screens in Hyde Park.  Most of the concerts are also televised, so if you (like me) would prefer to sit at home munching on chips and chugging beer while watching a symphony orchestra tensely (albeit triumphantly) churn their way through a Shostakovich symphony, then you may.  Or if you'd like to stand in line for super cheap tickets on the day and "prom" or stand in the arena and gallery during the concert (I'd probably tip over quite slowly by the second movement of anything, so I choose to pay for actual seats), then you may also do this.  If you'd like to pay for expensive box or front row tickets, the sky's the limit.  In other words, it's amazing.  More importantly, it opens up the world of classical music to a lot of people who wouldn't normally attend such concerts (cough, cough, people under the age of 65).
One of my favorite conductors, Vladmir Jurowski (I must admit:  it's all about the hair) led the LPO (that's the London Philharmonic Orchestra for all you neophytes) in a Russian-themed programme for Prom 40 on Sunday, and I was fortunate enough to attend.  The concert opened with one of my favorites, Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald [or Bare, as it's sometimes translated] Mountain" (played at a ridiculous speed, might I add), which brought back many fond memories of my first year in the MHC orchestra.  Julia Fischer (who is officially my new favorite violinist - sorry Joshua Bell, I think you're getting on a bit in age) played an incredibly impassioned interpretation of the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor (though I fell asleep a bit during the first movement ... yawn), followed by a riveting encore (which I would have heard the name of had someone not conveniently coughed at the exact point when she announced it from the stage UPDATE: see the comment below for the mystery piece unveiled), much to the audience's delight.  I was officially smitten.  The second half of the concert consisted of the Scriabin 'Reverie', which I wasn't familiar with (but like all Scriabin, fell in love with) and concluded with the Prokofiev Symphony No. 3 in C minor, which, to be honest, didn't stand out too much for me.

I'm looking forward to attending more Proms in the coming weeks, so let me know if you'd be interested in keeping me company.


  1. Fischer’s encore was the first movement of Ysa├┐e’s Second Sonata. The orchestra was the London Philharmonic Orchestra. You can check out their blog here: http://londonphilharmonic.wordpress


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