Prom 53 has been one of my favourite Proms of the whole 2013 season. It was just fantastic. The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and, for the Wanger, soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci, were all absolutely fantastic.
Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture was the first piece of Prom 53. This piece is an absolute stunner, and, if by some off-chance, you’ve never heard it before, have a listen on iPlayer. It’s very popular in the classical repertoire and a great piece to introduce classical newbies to, and one of my favourite orchestral non-symphonic pieces. The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra played the Fantasy Overture so well. It was brilliant. If you only have half an hour to listen to one piece from the Proms this week, make it this one.
The Fantasy Overture was followed by Richard Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder, with soprano soloist Anna Caterina Antonacci. Now, I thought that the Tchaikovsky was good (and it was – listen to it!), but this was amazing. I was completely blown away. Anna Caterina Antonacci was so, so good. Song cycles such as this don’t always sound fantastic via iPlayer, but this was so good. I am in raptures.
After interval, the only piece was Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 in B flat major. This was an interesting piece for Prokofiev to write, as it had to observe so many Soviet rules and comply with the propaganda. Despite this, Prokofiev managed to create what is a very bright, rich and full piece, which was wonderfully played by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. We were lucky to receive an encore from this brilliant orchestra, the bouncy and cheerful Folk Festival from Shostakovich’s score from the Soviet film The Gladfly. A great way to end one of the best Proms of the season.
If you only listen to one Prom this week: make it Prom 53.
(Picture from the BBC)