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Thread: Prom 1 - Friday 15th July 2011 at 7.30 p.m.

  1. #21
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    I enjoyed the Weir, the Brahms sound was terrible to me, due to present hearing problems. The BBC SO sounded like the village band with no strings audible, just bass and voices at the end. Don't like Liszt's
    PCs but the young man obviously has a great future. Heard half of the Glagolitic Mass. Don'tknow it well enough to notice the different edition but hope to catch up with it somewhere today. Janacek is always worth hearing IMHO.

  2. #22
    Ventilhorn Guest

    Default Prom 1 - Friday 15th July 2011 at 7.30 p.m.

    So what did you all think?

    For myself, I was pleasantly surprised. The opening by Judith Weir was what a fanfare should be - brief, to the point and acceptable to my admittedly biased ears.

    How nice to hear the choir joining in with Gaudeamus Igitur in the Academic Festival Overture!

    Then that amazing young pianist. No posturing or facial expressions like Lang Lang, but instead a look of absolute concentration and commitment. An inferior work compared with Liszt's 1st piano concerto IMHO but technically more demanding and Benjamin Grosvenor showed absolute mastery; as he did in that apalling travesty of Brahms Hungarian Dance NÂș 5 in his encore.

    I admit that I am not a great fan of Janacek, but the Glagolitic Mass is a fine choral work and the choir were absolutely superb

    I have only one small niggle. On this occasion, probably the most British of all our musical tradition, why did we have four foreign soloists? Surely we have singers in this country perfectly capable of singing those roles? (In fact, the soprano did not impress and the mezzo wobbled like a Chivers Jelly van going over British potholes.
    Language should not have been a barrier; I wasn't aware that the chorus were singing in English.

    All in all, though, a pleasing opening to the season.

    Have a good weekend.
    Ventilhorn

    PS Having played William Tell on many occasions, I can assure you that it may be Rossin's longest opera, but it is nowhere near the standard of his other works and is a good illustration of why he virtually gave up composing subsequently, but see if you agree (if you can last the full four acts.)

  3. #23
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    SORRY - I WAS REPLYING TO A POST BY VENTILHORN WHICH HAS DISAPPEARED, SO AM PLACING IT HERE. I'VE QUOTED A BIT OF IT, HOPE IT MAKES SENSE.

    Looking forward to William Tell much more than the opening night, which I only caught bits of. However, agree with the gist of your comments, Ventilhorn, vis a vis the superiority of the first Liszt concerto, which received a sparkling performance from stand-in Boris Giltburg at last year's Proms, and will probably be the highlight of the Last Night.

    On this occasion, probably the most British of all our musical tradition, why did we have four foreign soloists? Surely we have singers in this country perfectly capable of singing those roles?
    On the contrary, it was good to hear Russian and Czech voices in this Slavic work, and, honestly, we don't need to start introducing quotas to protect British soloists.

  4. #24
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    I am going to disagree with everyone about the Judith Weir. Whilst I usually have great respect for her as a composer, I couldn't believe my ears last night. It had an insipid, neo-Vaughan Williams almost 'light music' effort with a distinct cow-pat feel to it. Where was the Judith Weir of 'Illuminare' for instance? It could almost have come from the pen of Rutter, IMO.

    The Glag was great! It's a fantastic piece that could only have come from the creative mind of a genius. Its spirit was well-and-truly captured last night. Whilst it is biilled as a 'choral work' it is more an orchestral piece with choral and solo interjections. It is VERY nerve-racking to sing either in choir or as soloist, because you have to keep hyper-alert for often very brief and tricky-to-pitch entries. There is not much to 'get-your-teeth-into' in terms of long passages you can let yourself go in. As someone said, the solo tenor part is both frightening and punsihing to the voice. I think everyone did a grand job and especially the conductor, Jiri B, who is a sort of polar opposite to Valery Gergiev with his clear, functional beat. And thanks BBC for a TV treat.

    Benjamin Grosveno did a great job, especially on his encore. The Liszt 2nd is a strange piece. The 'tune' in the final part, blared out on trumpet, is almost comically banal, whilst the piano part, as I suppose one would expect, relies heavily on pyrotechnics which B-J made look easy.
    I am always fascinated by the dynamic between conductor and soloist in any concerto. It struck me last night that B-J was relying quite heavily on Jiri B to set tempi. That's a perfectly good way of doing things, especially if all has been agreed in advance and is carried out to the letter. I would just comment that pianist watched conductor more than vice-versa. If I'd been Jiri B, I'd have like the positioning of the piano to make 'vice-versa' easier.

  5. #25
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    Why on earth should the soloists in the Janacek be British? It isn't British music, and the Proms isn't (aren't?) a Little England festival.

    None of the music in this Prom was really to my taste, but I was fascinated to see how Benjamin Grosvenor has developed. I wonder if he felt as unruffled as he looked? Probably.

  6. #26
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    Comment emailed from Guest aka cellini (Posthumous):

    "I heard this Prom on TV (as I now have a licence!) and I was amazed at the poor sound quality. I only used a pair a of unreliable ears and no measuring equipment but just about every timp stroke was severely distorted. Anyone hearing a symphony concert for the first time would have been given an inacurate impression of how the timpani sounds.

    The mics were inches away from the timp skins, and probably no mic in existence can withstand those sound pressures without distorting very badly. The people doing the sound balance must have no idea how a timpani should sound. On the whole the sound quality was hard and brittle and there was an unusual (for a Prom) lack of bass. It made the top and middle strings sound quite brilliant, but at a cost.

    I thought the piano sound to be OK, and I noticed the mic was a little way away from the piano. Master Grosvenor has a big sound, so this was obviously no problem (I've heard him live from the very back row of the gallery in the Wigmore Hall so I know he can project).

    Its a pity that the Liszt concerto is such a pile of rubbish. I have yet to hear him perform anything really worthwhile, as he seems to like strange repertoir."

  7. #27
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    Good to hear from cellini, and to see that he hasn't mellowed

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Chambers View Post
    Why on earth should the soloists in the Janacek be British?
    I'm sure the conductor on this occasion would have been equally critical of British singers trying to sound like 9th century Slavs. He no doubt had some input regarding the soloists. As others have suggested, the authentic Czech contribution in this work was a definite plus.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by french frank View Post
    Comment emailed from Guest aka cellini (Posthumous):
    .... On the whole the sound quality was hard and brittle and there was an unusual (for a Prom) lack of bass. It made the top and middle strings sound quite brilliant, but at a cost.....
    I'm just relieved that we aren't having the dreadful overbearing bloated and booming bass that we were subjected to in the 2009 season!

    I do miss Cellini's contributions.

  10. #30
    barber olly Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Chambers View Post
    Why on earth should the soloists in the Janacek be British? It isn't British music, and the Proms isn't (aren't?) a Little England festival.
    I quite agree Mary, next there will be the suggestion that the BBCSO and all other British orchestras should have British conductors!

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