Home » BBC Proms 2013 » Prom 68: Tchaikovsky, Szymanowski & Rachmaninov Review

Prom 68: Tchaikovsky, Szymanowski & Rachmaninov Review

Prom 68 (part 1): Tchaikovsky, Szymanowski & Rachmaninov

Prom 68 was a bit back-to-front in terms of concert arrangement – it started with a symphony for the first half, a concerto following interval, and then some symphonic dances. Well, it’s good to mix things up I suppose! Prom 68 was performed by the Olso Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vasily Petrenko.

The cycle of Tchaikovsky symphonies continues with his Symphony No. 1 in G minor ‘Winter Daydreams’ begins Prom 68. Tchaikovsky wrote this symphony almost as soon as he’d finished university, but it is not an obvious student piece. I love that even though this is the first symphony Tchaikovsky wrote, it’s still so obviously his work. Love the first movement. Around the 24:30 minute mark, that crescendo  – wow.  That was brilliant. And the ending is a proper big, all-in finale. This symphony is not played nearly enough in the regular classical repertoire, and it needs to be. It is amazing and every bit as good as the later Tchaikovsky symphonies. More ‘Winter Daydreams’ please!

The Polish composer Karol Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with soloist Baiba Skride, making her Proms debut, was the first piece of the second act. This piece was nice and quite pretty, but after the fantastic Tchaikovsky symphony before interval, it felt a bit eh. The piece just doesn’t quite have the oomph of the Tchaikovsky.

Finally, Sergei Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances concluded this Prom. Whereas the Tchaikovsky was the first piece he wrote out of school, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances was the last thing he wrote. I quite like this piece and it was played wonderfully by the Oslo Philharmonic. The beautiful 100 ‘Welcome with Honour’ (English translation of a Norwegian piece)  was played as an encore.

And if you haven’t, check out Becky’s blog on her Proms experiences here – she’d actually attending the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, unlike me, 10,000 miles away down here in Australia listening in on iPlayer!

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