Prom 55 was ‘Polish Night’, continuing one of this Prom’s seasons themes, that of Polish composers and Polish music, which was in this Prom interspersed with music by the Russian composer Shostakovich. The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra performed in this Prom with conductor Antoni Wit, who was making his last appearance and chief conductor and artist director of the Warsaw Philharmonic.
Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra was the first piece of this Prom. I thought this piece was good and well played, especially by the brass section.
After the traditional ‘heave-ho!’ as the piano is brought on stage, the second piece of Prom 55, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major begun. Quite like the Prokofiev Symphony in Prom 53, Shostakovich was restricted by a lot of Soviet boundaries when he wrote this. It is, however, a very fun piece, as none of the three movements’ links in with the next. Soloist, and Proms debut artist Alexander Melnikov played wonderfully, and treated the audience to an encore of Fireworks from Claude Debussy’s Preludes.
The second act began with two pieces by Polish composer Andrzej Panufnik, his Tragic Overture and Lullaby. The Tragic Overture was written during WWII, and was Panufnik’ as a way of résistance and defiance toward the Nazis. The Lullaby was written in 1947, and I found it to be a terribly sad and moving piece, performed by the string sections of the Warsaw Philharmonic. Both of these pieces were beautifully played by the Warsaw Philharmonic and were really very nice.
The final piece was more Shostakovich, his Symphony No. 6 in B minor. An encore of the Gavotte from Prokofiev’s Symphony No 1 was performed, following on with the Russian theme, but this was then followed by a second encore of the Polka from the Liberal Suite by Lutosławski, because, of course, the main theme of this Prom was Polish music, so it had to end with some of that. I also believe that this was the first Prom of the season in which we’ve had two final encores.