Prom 16 started the BBC National Orchestra of Wales’s cycle of the Tchaikovsky symphonies, starting with the Fourth Symphony. I am very happy about this, as Tchaikovsky is my favourite composer. This Prom also had a bit of a Hollow Crown-theme to it. I really liked this one.
It began with Sir Edward Elgar’s Falstaff, a suite for the (in)famous character created by William Shakespeare, and co-star in his Henry IV Part I and Part II, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. This is not my favourite piece by Elgar, but it was well played, and, well I liked it well enough, but nothing overly special.
The second piece was Bantock’s Sapphic Poem, performed by cello soloist Raphael Wallfisch, along with the BBC NOW. This was beautifully played by Wallfisch, and sounded as though it was highly enjoyed by the audience, too.
The second act began with two short pieces from William Walton’s music for Sir Laurence Olivier’s Henry V, ‘Touch her soft lips’ and ‘Death of Falstaff’. These were really very lovely and beautiful, ‘Death of Falstaff‘ hauntingly so.
Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony would have to be my favourite piece in the entire classical repertoire. That’s big praise, I know, but there is not one thing I do not like about this symphony. Not one note or phrase or anything. The melodies, the orchestration, everything is just so amazing. I must also add: this is the piece that really got me into classical music, and whatever your ‘first’ favourite is, the piece that converts you, you will love forever. I found it as it was the background music that played on the MSO’s website about five years ago now. I just completely fell in love, went and bought the CD, and have loved this symphony (and Tchaikovsky) ever since. Anyway, back to Prom 16, and the BBC NOW. What can I say? I think the BBC NOW are brilliant, and they’re playing my number one favourite classical piece. Applause after the first and second movements (out of place, but definitely deserved). STRAIGHT from the third movement into the fourth (there can be a pause there). And the epic fourth movement. Loved the speed. It was fantastic. Huge applause at the end.
This Prom is probably my favourite straight classical Prom of the season so far (probably entirely because of the Tchaikovsky). Well done BBC NOW and Jac van Steen. Goodness I wish I was there.