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BBC Proms 2020 : Prom 16 : Last Night of the Proms [video recording]

af BBC One, Thomas Arne (Komponist), Benjamin Britten (Arranger), Charles Dibdin (Komponist), Anne Dudley (Arranger)12 mere, Edward Elgar (Komponist), Oscar Hammerstein II (Lyricist), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Komponist), Hubert Parry (Komponist), Richard Rodgers (Komponist), Jean Sibelius (Komponist), Stephen Sondheim (Komponist), Richard Strauss (Komponist), Andrea Tarrodi (Komponist), Ralph Vaughan Williams (Komponist), Errollyn Wallen (Komponist), Henry Wood (Komponist)

Andre forfattere: BBC Singers (Chorus), BBC Symphony Orchestra (Orchestra), Nicola Benedetti (Violin), A. C. Benson (Text), William Blake (Text)14 mere, Beth Celyn (Singer), Katie Derham (Presenter), Cat Dixon (Producer), Martha Guiney (Flute), Ali Levack (Pipes), John Henry Mackay (Text), Shane McCartan (Guitar), Richard Pearce (Organ), Golda Schultz (Soprano), Dalia Stasevska (Conductor), James Thomson (Text), VRï (String trio), Matthew Woodward (Instruktør), Igor Yuzefovich (Violin)

Serier: BBC Proms Video Recordings (202016), BBC Proms 2020 (16)

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The decorations on the conductor’s podium weren’t promising. Neatly covered with paper streamers, a single L-plate half-buried among them, it was an overconscientious attempt to reproduce the gently anarchic silliness of classical music’s most famous closing-night party. The Last Night of the Proms is not just another concert. It’s an event all about its audience: its joyous, inflatable-toting, flag-waving, singing-and-knee-bobbing crowd of prommers, who whistle, whoop and drink their way through the evening. This year they were entirely absent.

Certainly, watching it on TV, the Last Night felt like a party to which no one had turned up, its organisers trying extra hard to make it “fun”. Presenter Katie Derham was joined not only by actor Adjoa Andoh and Rev Richard Coles (both warm, articulate commentators), but also via video by four other guests – comedian Mel Giedroyc, singer Lesley Garrett, jazz musician Jacob Collier (and his mum) and David James, an ex-footballer who used to play the cello. They were occasionally flashed on to our screens though hardly given a chance to speak. As the concert wore on, Garrett swayed ever more manically underneath a union jack umbrella. The camera work was just as hyperactive, cutting incessantly between close-ups of performers and dizzying lurches across the stage. By the time we were spun around as the Hornpipe from Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs accelerated, I felt distinctly nauseous.

But even such desperate cheeriness couldn’t entirely distract from the cloud that had been hanging over the event for weeks. On 23 August, a Sunday Times article reported that the BBC was considering scrapping Rule Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory because “organisers fear a backlash because of their perceived association with colonialism and slavery”, sparking several days of furious “debate”. The programme was hurriedly confirmed – those items still featured but in their original instrumental versions rather than sung – before the culture secretary and then prime minister himself waded in, joining those baying for the upholding of “tradition”. But, as others have pointed out, the Proms are 125 years old this year and the “last night” programme has changed constantly in that time, including a radically different lineup in 2001, days after the 9/11 attacks. Meanwhile conductor Dalia Stasevska – the second woman to conduct the Last Night – received death threats after she was said to believe it was time “to bring change” as the anti-racism movement has gathered pace this year.

The Last Night has consistently reacted to the changing world around it. It is inevitably political. Music never floats free of “real life”
In the event, the offending words were sung by 18 members of the BBC Singers, their performance energetic if inevitably underwhelming in such a vast space. Other musical voices had more impact and more to say. In Errollyn Wallen’s newly commissioned version of Parry’s Jerusalem, South African soprano Golda Schultz soared over an orchestra pulling riotously in different directions, the familiar hymn tune coming in and out of focus. Another world premiere, Solus by Swedish composer Andrea Tarrodi was all pulsating dark sonorities, the chilling sound of detuned timpani and string agitation worthy of a Hitchcock soundtrack – about as comforting as a bloodthirsty episode of Nordic noir, but it felt like an honest response to the times.

Meanwhile violinist Nicola Benedetti’s performance of Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending was both daring (her tone almost ghostly at times) and straightforwardly, overwhelmingly musical. The BBC Symphony Orchestra were on fine form, Stasevska’s conducting absolutely committed.

Once again, though: the Last Night has rarely been about the music. From soprano Jamie Barton waving the gay pride flag on stage in 2019 to Proms founder Henry Wood thanking prommers and sponsors for their support in August 1941 after the bombing of the Proms’ original venue, the Last Night has consistently reacted to the changing world around it. It is inevitably political. Music never floats free of “real life”, no matter how much we sometimes wish it could. Failing to acknowledge music’s capacity to act – not only to bring together and to heal, but also potentially to do harm – is to undermine what makes it precious. And at a time when the music industry is under serious threat and institutional racism has dominated headlines, this Last Night was a missed opportunity to speak up, take responsibility and show much-needed leadership.
tilføjet af kleh | RedigerThe Guardian, Flora Willson (Sep 13, 2020)
 
With 300 musicians reduced to just 65, a socially distanced audience viewing from the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, and the BBC Singers scattered about the stalls where, in times past, the seats would have been filled paying guests, this was always going to be a very different event. Complaints abounded prior to the last night; at how having a sung version of Jerusalem and Rule, Britannia! was necessary to maintain the fabric of ‘the last night’– what tosh, the fabric of ‘the last night’ was torn apart in March 2020 when the lights went out in theatres and concert halls up and down the country. The BBC capitulated and tonight was the culmination of a truncated season of sixteen live events – some magnificent – at the end of a period that we probably will all wish to forget as soon as possible.

Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska stood upon a podium bedecked in multicoloured ribbons and an ‘L’ plate, no doubt, to draw attention to this being her first time. Though this may be her first visit to the Last Night podium, she is no rookie as a brightly vigorous overture from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro ensued.

Immediately after, Susanna’s aria from the same opera’s final act was performed by the first of tonight’s two soloists – South African soprano Golda Schultz. A tender, lilting waltz that was sensitively sung and accompanied in equal measure and the first of two consecutive pieces to be sung by Schultz – the second, Strauss’s Morgen! followed.

Written as one of four songs, Opus 27, and a wedding present for his wife Pauline to words by John Henry Mackay, Strauss’s original for violin and piano, here was presented in the composer’s small orchestra arrangement of three-year’s later. The BBCSO’s leader, Igor Yuzefovich played the part for solo violin. As magical as the opening is, there could be nothing that could have prepared us for the emotional yearning of Golda Schultz’s opening stanza – “Und morgen wird die Sonne wieder scheinen” (and tomorrow the sun will shine again). It was as if all the sadness and heartache of the recent months of pandemic were compressed into a single phrase of hope.

Continuing the theme, Andrea Tarrodi’s Solus, receiving its world premiere, explicitly comments upon the shadow of COVID-19 and the times in which we currently find ourselves. In a video interview broadcast just before the performance, Tarrodi, from her home in Stockholm, explained how the piece starts with a dark tremolo on the timpani and in the lower strings. A ‘virus’ develops in the flutes and clarinets, growing throughout the orchestra until it takes over building to a climatic forte-fortissimo chord. Here I was reminded of the ‘Dance of the Earth’ at the end of the first part of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring – whether this was a deliberate reference by the composer I don’t know, but it is convincing and, in the light of the music’s theme, quite appropriate. As with the Stravinsky, slow oscillating chords follows; here, leading the music “out into wild nature, where we hear the birds sing…”.

Not for the first time at a ‘Last night’ the music of Broadway composer Steven Sondheim, and in particular his 1973 musical “A Little Night Music” was heard. The Night Waltz, that becomes the overture continued without a break into ‘The Glamourous Life’ – possibly the second most well-known song after ‘Send in the Clowns’. Here we saw just how talented and versatile Golda Schultz is – singing with a swagger and an east-coast accent that was spot on. Excellent!

Dalia Stasevska is married to the Finnish musician Lauri Porra who is the great-grandson of Jean Sibelius, so it would have been questionable programming to omit the Finnish composer from this last-night programme. Remarkably receiving its first performance at the Proms, the Impromptu for Strings was, like the Strauss heard earlier, written for violin and piano, but arranged a year later, in 1894, for string orchestra. Gentle pulsating chords in the lower strings formed a bed upon which the muted violins of the BBCSO gave a most tender performance.

Just before the traditional ‘whistle’ where the serious music ends and the fun begins, Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending, written just before the start of the first world war, continued the mellow tone set by Sibelius immediately before. Nicola Benedetti stepped in at the last minute to take over from Lisa Batiashvili who was unwell. This might have explained the apparent disconnect between soloist and orchestra. Chosen as the nation’s favourite piece of music in Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs poll, The Lark Ascending continues a theme having started life as a piece for piano and violin before being rescored for larger forces – here solo violin and chamber orchestra. With a few timing issues, this performance gave the impression that because the music is such standard repertoire, less rehearsal time was spared than was actually necessary.

After Jerusalem’s first performance, Parry withdrew his support for the commissioning “Fight for Right” organisation, instead wishing it to become the Women Voters’ hymn, and later to become the hymn of the Women’s Institutes where it is sung to this day. Composer Errolyn Wallen has loved this hymn since childhood, in particular in Elgar’s arrangement (self-evident from the second verse) however she has needed to reconceive this piece in smaller terms; “I don’t have a tuba, a bass trombone or a bass drum…but I do have the organ” she says. Ever versatile Golda Schultz sings Parry’s melody and more besides. Whether Errolyn Wallen’s take on Parry’s Jerusalem was supposed to be a replacement is not known, however, there is something immediately appealing in this reimagining of a well-known part of the Proms.

To the beginning of finale and the start of the end of the Proms 2020. The Fantasia on British Sea-Songs (using bass-clarinet rather than euphonium) was quite different. There were no promenaders to goad the conductor in the hornpipe, no horns, whistles and claxons to accompany the Saucy Arethusa and no balloons spiralling to the ceiling in Tom Bowling. We got to hear Henry Wood’s joke at the end of the hornpipe (where he removes bars from the tune to beat the promenaders) but, without the racing, stamping and clapping that usually accompanies the last night performance, the joke falls a bit flat. Leader Igor Yuzefovich and principal flute Daniel Pailthorpe did up the ante in some skilfully ornamented solos, but it wasn’t quite the same.

Keeping to what has become a last-night tradition of including pieces from around the British Isles, we heard a lone piper from Dundee, a folk singer and string group from Tenby and an Irish jig from Belfast. All good things in themselves, and probably in keeping with Sir Henry’s music for the masses.

Rule, Britannia! followed by Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March, the latter started too fast before Stasevska put on the breaks, worked less well than earlier pieces this evening. The BBC singers were stood behind the conductor and sat a distance apart that made timing, especially in the male verse of Rule, Britannia!, difficult. Elgar’s celebratory march, in an arrangement by Anne Dudley for slimmed down forces that made the best of an impossible job, seemed neutered. Perhaps the BBC were right in their original decision to reconceive the last night for the forces that they actually had at their disposal.

Then on to a final message of hope, ‘You’ll never walk alone’ from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel. This was a splendid arrangement by Ian Tracey with the BBC singers and Golda Schultz taking centre stage the first time around, then, when repeated, with the addition of the orchestra. I would question the positioning of this piece lest we get ourselves into a spiral of self-pity. The usual Pomp and Circumstance March followed by Jerusalem would, I feel, work better – especially when sung in the original Parry version for chorus and organ as it was here.

And finally, to what has now become a tradition – the National Anthem in an arrangement by Benjamin Britten written for the Leeds Festival in 1961. The arrangement is sublime and a fitting end to any Proms season, as it has been for some years now. There was no Auld Lang Syne at the end; no clasping of hands; no hugging until we meet again; no tak’in a cup o’kindness. This was a subdued ending to an altogether different Proms season. I hope for all our sakes a return to normality in 2021. Until then, stay safe, cover your face and listen to great music.
tilføjet af kleh | RedigerClassical Source, Chris Caspell (Sep 12, 2020)
 

» Tilføj andre forfattere

Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
BBC Oneprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Arne, ThomasKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Britten, BenjaminArrangerhovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Dibdin, CharlesKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Dudley, AnneArrangerhovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Elgar, EdwardKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Hammerstein II, OscarLyricisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Mozart, Wolfgang AmadeusKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Parry, HubertKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Rodgers, RichardKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Sibelius, JeanKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Sondheim, StephenKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Strauss, RichardKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Tarrodi, AndreaKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Vaughan Williams, RalphKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Wallen, ErrollynKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Wood, HenryKomponisthovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
BBC SingersChorusmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
BBC Symphony OrchestraOrchestramedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Benedetti, NicolaViolinmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Benson, A. C.Textmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Blake, WilliamTextmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Celyn, BethSingermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Derham, KatiePresentermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Dixon, CatProducermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Guiney, MarthaFlutemedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Levack, AliPipesmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Mackay, John HenryTextmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
McCartan, ShaneGuitarmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Pearce, RichardOrganmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Schultz, GoldaSopranomedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Stasevska, DaliaConductormedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Thomson, JamesTextmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
VRïString triomedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Woodward, MatthewInstruktørmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Yuzefovich, IgorViolinmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
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