Today at the Proms - Prom 69 & 70

Continuing our daily coverage of what's on at The Proms 2019, Susan Omand has a quick look at the programme for Prom 69: Smetana, Shostakovich & Tchaikovsky and Prom 70: Jonny Greenwood ...

Smetana's Bartered Bride opens proceedings in the first of our two proms tonight, with the overture and three dances. Writing an opera, I think, must be like writing an essay at school with the essay plan usually being written at the end, once you know where your story is going to go... or was that just me? The Bartered Bride is unusual in that Smetana wrote the overture (his "essay plan" of themes and leit motifs) right at the start before composing any of the rest of it. Another opera piece follows with Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin taking centre stage. Based on the acclaimed "novel in verse" by Alexander Pushkin, the opera sticks closely to the story of the eponymous hero who lives to regret his blasé rejection of a young woman's love.  After the interval in the early prom tonight it's a real treat as we get Shostakovich's Symphony No 5 which is utterly beautiful and very dark with the enforced jollity in the first movement (which sounds like an out of tune music box) giving way to a heartbreaking largo in movement 3 before picking up again with a pasted on smile towards the end of the final movement. A damning indictment of society at the time and a pre-cursor, for me, to the prescient novel 1984 with the breakaway, death and return to the establishment fold told in music.

Again it's the later evening prom that interests me this time [Shock! Horror! - Ed]. For those that don't know, not only is Jonny Greenwood the guitarist from Radiohead, but he's also written several film scores, like Inherent Vice, You Were Never Really Here and Phantom Thread, in fact he's composed for every film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson since 2007's There Will be Blood. I'm really looking forward to hearing the world premiere of his "digital but acoustic" Horror Vacui, which takes full on electronic sounds and recreated them with a full orchestra. The rest of the late programme is also very challenging, but should be fun to listen to, with abstract musicians Penderecki, von Biber [no not Justin von Biber - Ed] and this from Steve Reich, the highly hypnotic Pulse.

Here's the full programme for this evening's Prom which you can listen to live from 19:30 on Radio 3 or on the iPlayer 

Prom 69 - 19:00

Bedrich Smetana
The Bartered Bride – overture
The Bartered Bride – Three Dances(19 mins)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Eugene Onegin – Letter Scene(12 mins)Henry Wood Novelties: UK premiere, 1892


Dmitry Shostakovich
Symphony No 8 in C minor(65 mins)Henry Wood Novelties: UK premiere, 1944

Prom 70 - 10:00

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber
Mystery (Rosary) Sonatas No. 16 – Passacaglia in G minor(6 mins)

Krzysztof Penderecki
Sinfonietta for strings – Vivace(5 mins)

Jonny Greenwood
Three Miniatures from Water – No. 3(5 mins)
88 (No. 1)(7 mins)

Steve Reich
Pulse(15 mins)

Jonny Greenwood
Horror vacui – for solo violin and 68 strings(27 mins)BBC commission: world premiere

Image - Photo © Chris Christodoulou

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