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Reviews from week two of Proms 2009

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Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick | 09:23 UK Time, Saturday, 1 August 2009


Peter Bradshaw, who reviews films for The Guardian, took his child to the first of the family Proms. On the Guardian's film blog, he writes about Britten's A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra:

For many music lovers, this piece was what started it all; this was their threshold experience of music - and also, some cynics suggest, a key cultural induction into the world of the British middle classes.

Richard Morrison reviews mezzo Susan Graham's first Chamber Prom at Cadogan Hall on 27 July in The Times (Chamber Prom 2, 27 July). He gives the concert 4 out of five stars:

Highlights? Poulenc's mini-opera, La dame de Monte-Carlo, was delivered so pungently that you almost cringed along with the poor lady shamed at the gaming-tables. And Graham and Martineau brilliantly characterised the dialogue between vain crow and sly fox in André Caplet's Le corbeau et le renard.

Stuart O'Connor, in The Guardian's US TV section, is surprised to learn that creator of Family Guy and American Dad, Seth MacFarlane, is going to be at The Hall singing show tunes tonight (Prom 22). O'Connor asks MacFarlane to explain how this came about:

The simple answer to that is somebody asked me. The setlist was full of songs that I know and love, and I figured what could be more fun than to sing them with a 92-piece orchestra.

Christopher Morley travelled down to London by bus for the Proms debut of the CBSO's Latvian principal conductor and musical director Andris Nelsons:

And all the talk on the CBSO Friends' coach driving down to London on Tuesday morning had been of Nelsons, his effect on the orchestra, and pleasure at the news that he has happily extended his contract with the CBSO to 2014 - this continued freshness of response from hardened veterans of already many Nelsons-conducted concerts is something gratifyingly remarkable.

Doundou Tchil, on his Classical Iconoclast blog, reviews the Hallé's evening of Berlioz and Mendelssohn. He loves Mendelssohn's big Symphony No.2 in B flat major, 'Lobgesang':

Despite the massed choirs and big orchestra, this wasn't the kind of "comfort music" we often get in big public places. The three parts of the first movement, the Sinfonia, evolve graciously. Elder doesn't let the theme of triumph (trumpets and trombones) become too obvious, even though it emerges near the beginning. Instead, he lets the airy Allegro mood prevail.

Reviewing the same concert on the Proms web site, 'pround Mancunian' grouchof, took the opportunity to pay tribute to the Hallé's departing Choral Director Jamie Burton:

Bravissimo Mark Elder.....your passion is infectious. And your passion for choral singing, from grass roots level is so essential if progress is to be made in our city of Manchester.

You can review any of the Proms for visitors to the BBC Proms web site to read by clicking the 'Your Proms Reviews' link on any Prom's web page.

Martin Kettle, a political writer as well as a music critic at The Guardian also reviews the Hallé (Prom 19, 30 July). He gives the Hallé's performance four out of five stars. Of the Mendelssohn, he says:

Elder took the symphony at a brisk pace, clearly determined that his momentum would carry the work through its more static pages. Steve Davislim's well-projected tenor stood out among the soloists and the Hallé Choir gave their all. The Albert Hall was the perfect venue for this hybrid symphony-cantata, and it should not be another century before it is heard again at the Proms.


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