I'd probably have done better if I'd copied my neighbouring Gallerians and sat on the floor, back to the orchestra, and let the sound wrap like a blanket over me.
Whereas for many the symphony is the height of musical achievement I tend to deconstruct it and fret about what the bit of tambourine-shaking meant (why was it there?). Don't get that feeling with a string quartet ...
I started listening to the Bax symphonies when they first appeared on the Lyrita label, and followed that up with Vernon Handley and others. I know that there have been some fine recorded performances, but I do feel that the particular type of rhetoric in them does not perhaps record very well. After all, you really need to hear them at a decent level, and that is not always possible. The experience at the Prom the other night was in quite another order. I thought I knew the second quite well, but it was much more revealing in the hall.
I'm a big fan of these three-parters - Brabbins did a fine one last year that included a very good James Dillon commission La Navette juxtaposed with Mozart, Liszt, Rimsky-K and one of the less often heard Tchaikovsky symphonies, while the Danish RSO/Dausgaard one with Langgaard's Music of the Spheres was probably my highlight of the 2010 season. This one was most enjoyable, too, and not the kind of fare I would associate with the RPO, who produced a sumptuous sound on FM and on this evidence are perhaps somewhat under-rated these days. Wonderful to hear that it was packed out - for whatever reason.
The Bax symphony impressed me deeply - I'd had a go with that Handley cycle several years ago and didn't really click with any except the 3rd. Probably not the way to approach them. Heard in isolation here, this No 2, whilst sounding clearly the work of a British composer, conveyed a refreshingly different sound-world from that of Elgar and VW, and had me pretty gripped throughout, despite or perhaps because of its meanderings. All three movements.
The Bartok PC2 was riveting, for me it's the clear pick of the three.
One of the top concerts of the season so far.
My vote for the next one to be featured in this way is Darius Milhaud's 1st Symphony, a wonderful work which I'll probably never hear in concert. Or Nielsen 1-3? Vaughn Williams 4 or 6??
Last edited by prokkyshosty; 19-08-11 at 10:29. Reason: oops left out the third hammer blow
Managed to miss the Bax twice! Had no idea it was on yesterday afternoon. First heard this one in March. Im trudging through the series. It’s a good symphony, with weird harmonies at time and quite aggresive!
Bartok Piano con 2- heard this. His concertos always soound different to the standard concertos and not easy to recall. I may get some Bartok concertos on CD. (I only have Piano con 1). The string chords in mvt 2 sound very nocturnal and nostalgic. It would be good to get to know these works a bit more.
Heard the Prokofiev 4 revised. When you hear this as a symphony in a concert item you immedialty notice how tuneful this is. First time I’ve heard this on the radio. For me the original is better but is that because I started with that one? The original sounds harder edged and more clearly defined in its outer mvts, with the ending being much more rough and aggressive sounding. The revised sort of takes this away. Although the revised mvt 2 is good, brings out the tune more. This is the finale of the prodigal son, the homecoming.
Anyway, the presenter seemed to have got the notes for this symphony mixed up with no.5 and no.6! And didn’t mentioned that this symphony was also banned!
Anyway, if any prom was worth attending this one certainly was! There should be more like this. Take out the Barber and Copland though.
This concert was a perfect programme for me! Agreed the Bartok was a bit muddled to start with but turned out ok after the first couple of minutes. Ther Prok 4, a marvelous work!
Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life(Berthold Auerbach)