Friday, 12 August 2011

Film Music Prom

Calling all Film Music Fans! Tonight's prom is dedicated to some of the most widely recognisable works in classical music. Just think of Alfred Hitchcock's iconic film Psycho, available on Signum (SIG 234) and Unicorn-Kanchana (UK 2021). Bernard Herrmann who composed this work, is responsible too for the music to Citizen Kane and North by Northwest. Also in the first half of the prom William Walton's Henry V suite will be performed. The Chandos label offers a wonderful recording of this music arranged by Christopher Palmer.

The second half of the evening kicks off with John William's music to Star Wars, Schindler's List and Harry Potter, all of which feature on the Naxos album Great Movie Themes (NX 0505). I think the piece I'll be waiting to hear is Richard Rodney Bennett's Murder on the Orient Express. However, if you can't decide on your favourite music from the film world, you will find some all-time greats on Chandos's British Film music album. I hope you enjoy the performance.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Tonight's Prom - Steve Reich

The prom tonight at 10.15pm features the works of composer Steve Reich who will be celebrating his 75th birthday later this year. The performance will include several of his most noteable works such as Clapping Music, which has been recorded by several of the labels here on the Classical Shop. ARTS feature this work on their album AB 7624, signum on SIG 050 and the CORO label on CO 6031.

If you particularly enjoy the Electric Counterpoint we have two recordings of this piece, again, on the Signum label SIG 143 and the BIS label BIS 5019 - both are available for download on the Classical Shop. If you would like to explore more of his works then you will find a recent recording on the Chandos label, which the composer himself described as 'Incisive, focused and intense, this recording of the Three Movements is the best I have ever heard. The Desert Music is full, rich, yet full of detail. Kristian Järvi, the Tonkünstler-Orchester, and Sine Nomine  perform with a relaxed rhythmic precision that fits the music. Bravo and thanks to all". So with that it would seem a visit to the Classical Shop site and this particular album is a real must!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Press Officer at the Proms

Of the four Proms I have been to this year, each has been equally rewarding in different ways. The first (17th June) marked Juanjo Mena’s debut at the proms where the soon-to-be new chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic bought music from, or inspired by, his native homeland to London. We were treated to the wonderfully evocative Nights in the Garden of Spain (with Steven Osborne, the sensitive pianist), Ravel’s dazzling Rapsodie espagnole and Debussy’s inspired Images, where each movement was, curiously, separated by the other works. The next Prom (26th July) went from Spain to Hungary, with Jurowski leading the London Philharmonic. Beginning with Kodaly’s colorful Dances of Galánta, it went on to a blistering account of Bartók’s First Piano Concerto. Bartók wrote in the score that the percussion be placed surrounding the piano and it was almost disconcerting to see the piano engulfed in a battery of percussion instruments. But Jean-Efflam Bavouzet electrifying performance was more than a match for them, with conductor, orchestra and soloist filling the Albert Hall with electricity and excitement. The second half of the concert comprised Liszt’s epic Faust Symphony. Whilst the opening is magically haunting and evocative, after an hour of it – despite some wonderful moments - one can’t help thinking that Liszt could have done with a decent editor. The third prom (August 1st) brought the BBC Philharmonic again with their principle conductor, Gianandrea Noseda. Beginning with Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony – with its extended and magical introduction – Saint-Saëns Fifth Piano Concerto followed – and received a scintillating performance with Stephen Hough as the soloist. Subtitled, the ‘Egyptian’, its mixture of pseudo exotic elements combined with French charm is irresistible, and the finale bubbled with champagne-like exhilaration. The second half comprised another mammoth Liszt work, this time his Dante Symphony.  The fourth prom (August 2nd) featured Elgar’s Violin Concerto with the soloist, Tasmin Little, who was on inspirational form. Tasmin made a recording of this work with Chandos with Sir Andrew Davis last year (which won a Classic Brit Award) and her understanding of the piece was immediately apparent: the hushed intensity during the reflective passages was almost luminous in its intensity whilst the more dramatic passages were full of all the passion one could wish for in this masterpiece of a work. The second half featured a prom premiere: a work, by turns quirky and rousing music from Percy Grainger, in the form of his Suite ‘In a Nutshell’ and it was amusing to see the orchestra actually reduce in size for a riotous performance of Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel. The BBC Singers performed a superb performance of Elgar’s haunting There is sweet music.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Tasmin Little who erlier this year was awarded the Critic's Choice at the Classic BRITS will perform Elgar's Violin Concerto at tonight's Prom No 24. This work is included on a Chandos album CHAN 5083  which has recieved high praise from critics and the public alike. For the first time Percy Grainger's 'In a Nutshell' will be performed at a prom. This is sure to be a memorable prom indeed!

Later on in the evening Prom 25 is dedicated solely to the works of Grainger and his exploration of folk music.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Tonight's Prom

If you will be listening to, or are lucky enough to attend the proms in person tonight you should be in for a fantastic experience. In Prom 23 Gianandrea Noseda will be leading the BBC Philharmonic in several works, but the concert culminates with the exciting Dante Symphony by Liszt. This work forms part of a series of Liszt recordings undertaken by the Chandos label. So if you love what you hear tonight you can download your own copy from the Classical Shop.