Unfortunately this week I’ve got a little behind in my Proms listening, but hopefully I’ll be able to catch up over the weekend! I’ve been quite looking forward to listening to Prom 24: British Light Music. It was broadcast on both BBC Radio 3 (as all the Proms are) and BBc Radio 2. Ken Bruce, Radio 2 DJ and host of ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ on Radio 2, co-hosted along with Radio 3’s Petroc Trelawny. Prom 24 was performed by the excellent BBC Concert Orchestra, who are the orchestra for FNiMN. There was a big ‘royal focus’ through this Prom, which was certainly lived up to.
Sir Granville Bantock’s overture Pierrot of the Minute was the first piece of the night (can you get a more unfortunate Victorian name than Granville Ransome Bantock?). He might have a terrible name, but he certainly wrote some beautiful music. Bantock is a rather underplayed composer, and his Pierrot of the Minute definitely deserves to be in the more regular repertoire. It was very, very English, and very beautiful. Classical program makers – more Bantock!
Sir Edward Elgar’s Nursery Suite followed. This was ‘dedicated in 1931 to the Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth and to their mother Elizabeth, then Duchess of York’. I really enjoyed this piece, and can imagine playing really imaginative games to this, such as pirates and the like. I thought the string sections of the BBCCO were particularly good in this suite. There’s something very fun about the Nursery Suite, much as there should be in every child’s playroom.
Sir Malcolm Arnold (Knighthoods all round tonight!) Concerto for two pianos (three hands) was the final piece before interval. The introduction is splendid. Fair amount of pomp to it. EXCELLENT ending of the first movement. Really, this whole piece was surprisingly good. Huge cheer at the end. Self and the Royal Albert Hall audience all loved it.
Sir William Walton’s famous march Crown Imperial kicked of the second act. This piece was first performed at the coronation of George VI in 1937, and has been most recently heard at wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I love this march, and it was played with much gusto and aplomb by the BBCCO in this Prom.
Eric Coates’s (the first non-knight of the Prom!) The Three Elizabeths followed. This rousing piece was composed for the coronation of Elizabeth II, and each of the three movements is for each of the Queen Elizabeths: Elizabeth I (Tudor), The Queen Mother and the current Queen. This is a very charming piece, and I found myself bopping along to it (in the lounge room, while the rest of the family watched football).
Another piece by Arnold, this time his English Dances, Set I, Op. 27. Very big and loud and rather cool. The brass section in particular were fantastic in this piece.
The final piece for Prom 24 was Gordon Langford’s medley Say it with Music. This medley was made up of a number of BBC show signature tunes from over the years. I only recognised the theme from The Archers (no, I don’t listen to it, I just know the theme tune). The audience obviously recognised more than I did, but I enjoyed it all the same, especially the piece which started around 2:10:00.
This was a really great, fun, charming Prom. Excellent Friday night listening. One of my favourite over-all Proms of the season. Just lovely.