In Prom 67, it finally happened. I was so completely blown away by a piece that was new to me, I have gone and bought it on iTunes. I have been waiting to be blown away by a (new) piece (for me) for the past seven week thinking it might not happen, as last year it happened on First Night with Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture ‘In London Town’. It is Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten. Prom 67 featured the Orchestre de Paris conducted by Paavo Järvi.
The Prom began with Avro Pärt’s Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten, that he (Pärt) composed after he heard of the death of Benjamin Britten on December 4, 1976. I am a huge fan of Arvo Pärt, and, while trying not to sound too biased, this was beyond beautiful. I especially liked the bell. It is, of course, quite a solemn and almost melancholy piece, but it is just so, so beautiful. I have not yet heard a piece this Proms season that is new to me that I have loved so much.
The haunting opening was followed by Britten’s Violin Concerto with soloist Janine Jansen. I especially liked the first movement and the second movement around the 29 minute mark on iPlayer. This is probably actually one of my favourite pieces by Britten, and possibly one of my favourite violin concertos (after the Tchaikovsky one of course!).
The second act began with a piece that is practically the polar opposite of the Arvo Pärt that opened this Prom, Hector Berlioz’s overture from Le Corsaire. The pas de trios/pas de deux from the full ballet is one of best gala pieces in the ballet repertoire, and the score is fantastic. This was an excellent rendition of this overture by the Orchestre de Paris. It’s just such happy and joyous music.
Camille Saint-Saën’s Symphony No. 3 in C minor, ‘Organ’, with Thierry Escaich on the organ. It isn’t until the final movement when the organ really comes into its own, but it is certainly worth the wait. This is a great symphony (especially that final movement), and a fantastic way to end what has been one of my favourite Proms of the 2013 Proms Season. The Promenaders have learnt that if they applaud and stamp for long enough, they will get an encore, and were duly rewarded with the gallop from The Ball by George Bizet. Thank-you to the Orchestre de Paris and Paavo Järvi – you were sublime. And of course, thanks to the BBC Radio 3 and iPlayer people! This a really brilliant Prom that I highly recommend listening to. Don’t miss the Avro Pärt, if nothing else.