Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
Programming complete cycles of work is a Proms tradition, revived in 2008 when all of Rachmaninov's music for piano and orchestra was heard for the first time in a single season since 1958. Giving audiences the chance to experience a particular body of works through a season allows them to compare the pieces and continue a journey with a composer, or simply hear great individual pieces in their own right.
In the centenary year of Stravinsky's first contact with Diaghilev, all 11 of his ballet scores are performed at the Proms for the first time:
the colourful tale of the puppet Petrushka is performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiri Belohlavek (27 July)
the magical The Firebird – Stravinsky's first full-length Diaghilev commission – is conducted by Andris Nelsons in his Proms debut as Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (28 July)
the zany Neapolitan comedy Pulcinella is performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under young French-Canadian maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin, making his Proms debut (31 July)
Scenes de ballet, a fast-written score for a 1944 Broadway revue, is performed by the BBC Philharmonic and Gianandrea Noseda (5 Aug)
the 1936 Balanchine ballet Jeu de cartes, a musical poker game in three "deals", is conducted by Oliver Knussen in his first concert as Artist-in-Association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (7 Aug)
Les noces – the composer's re-enactment of a Russian peasant wedding for four pianos, percussion and singers – is a highlight of Multiple Pianos day (9 Aug)
The Fairy's Kiss, a Hans Christian Andersen-inspired ballet in which Stravinsky pays tribute to Tchaikovsky, is performed here by fast-rising young Ukrainian maestro Kirill Karabits and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (10 Aug)
with its pounding rhythms, cataclysmic upheavals and savage scenario of a young girl dancing herself to death, The Rite Of Spring remains a firm favourite for Proms audiences. Ilan Volkov conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (13 Aug)
Apollo, with its Classical restrained tone, is played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins (14 Aug)
one of Stravinsky's least-known masterpieces, Orpheus – beautiful and neo-Classical in tone, texture and form – is performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Ilan Volkov (15 Aug)
a dazzling set of 12 dances for 12 dancers, Agon was written in 1957 when Stravinsky was in his seventies, just one year before the famous gala concert in which the composer himself conducted it with the BBC Symphony Orchestra – and it is that orchestra which performs it here under David Robertson (28 Aug).
BBC Proms Plus Stravinsky/Diaghilev-related activities include:
Proms Family Music Intro exploring Stravinsky's ballet music with members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and professional dancers (27 July)
Diaghilev: The Years Abroad; The Years in Exile: former Proms Director John Drummond's two 1968 films for the BBC's Omnibus series (1 Aug)
Stravinsky: Once, at a Border... Tony Palmer introduces his profile of the composer, featuring contributions from family, colleagues and friends (15 Aug)
Philip Pullman, author of the award-winning trilogy His Dark Materials, talks to Susan Hitch about the powerful myth of Orpheus (15 Aug)
three special Proms Plus discussions featuring such guests as
choreographer Richard Alston; Director of the Royal Ballet,
Monica Mason; choreographer and director Millicent Hodgson;
composer Julian Anderson; and Stravinsky biographer Stephen
Walsh (28 July,
13 & 28 Aug).
Tchaikovsky: Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra
Pianist Stephen Hough undertakes a one-man piano marathon this season, as he becomes the first soloist to perform Tchaikovsky's complete piano-and-orchestra works in a single Proms season, starting with the Third Piano Concerto on the First Night (17 July).
He says the four works are "a strangely diverse cycle. They feature one of the most famous concertos ever written (No. 1); one of the most unjustly neglected concertos ever written (No. 2); a one-movement piece that began life as a symphony – not really a concerto at all (No. 3); and the two-movement Concert Fantasia, which escaped being called a concerto altogether."
Tchaikovsky piano concertos at the Proms:
for the ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 1, Hough is
joined by the National Youth Orchestra of Great
Britain under Vasily Petrenko
Piano Concerto No. 2 – whose middle movement unexpectedly flowers into a mini triple concerto for piano, violin and cello – is played by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons, in his debut Prom as the CBSO's new Music Director (28 July)
Piano Concerto No. 3 – with perhaps the longest trill in the entire concerto repertoire – is played on the First Night with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jiri Belohlavek (17 July)
the curiously neglected Concert Fantasia is conducted by David Robertson, joining Hough and the BBC Symphony Orchestra (28 Aug).
Mendelssohn Symphony Cycle
As part of Radio 3's Composer of the Year celebrations for Mendelssohn, born 200 years ago, there is the first complete cycle of his mature symphonies at the Proms, comprising:
written when Mendelssohn was only 15, Symphony
No. 1 gets its first Proms outing alongside his everpopular
Violin Concerto (with Isabelle Faust) from
BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Thierry Fischer
Symphony No. 2, Lobgesang, a grand "symphony cantata" written for the 400th anniversary of Gutenberg's invention of movable type, is performed by Sir Mark Elder and the Halle Choir, Youth Choir and Orchestra. Sally Matthews, a star graduate of Radio 3's New Generation Artists scheme, leads the vocal forces in its extended choral Hymn of Praise (30 July)
Symphony No. 3, Scottish, conceived during a trip to Scotland and dedicated to Queen Victoria, is played by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in a concert celebrating all four Composers of the Year conducted by Sir Roger Norrington and televised on BBC Two (25 Aug)
Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda leads the performance of the sun-drenched Symphony No. 4, Italian, written by the 21-year-old Mendelssohn while he was holidaying in Rome, in an Italian-themed Prom given by the BBC Philharmonic (6 Aug)
Symphony No. 5, Reformation, which quotes from Luther's great Reformation hymn Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, is performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under young French-Canadian maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin (31 July).
Respighi's Roman trilogy
The first complete Proms cycle of Respighi's Roman trilogy, with performances from different orchestras on consecutive nights, comprises:
Pines of Rome – pine-scented impressions of children at play, early Christians at prayer, a nightingale singing in the moonlight and the ghostly tramp of imperial legions up the Appian Way – opens the trilogy in an Italian-themed programme from the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Gianandrea Noseda (6 Aug)
Fountains of Rome – a dawn-to-dusk tour of the city's most famous fountains – is played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under new Artist-in-Association Oliver Knussen (7 Aug)
the first ever Proms performance of Roman Festivals – a cinematic survey of the Eternal City's ever-changing festivals, from ancient gladiatorial combats in the Circus Maximus to the fairground bustle in the Piazza Navona – is given by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain under Vasily Petrenko (8 Aug).
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