Today at the Proms - Day 19

Continuing our daily coverage of what's on at The Proms 2021, Susan Omand takes a quick look at today's Prom...

I must admit, this one kind of passed me by when I did my initial look through all the proms for this year to pick out my "looking forward to's" because I didn't really recognise anything (or anyone really) on the list and nothing jumped out at me as intriguing because harpsichord schmarpsichord. Oh how wrong I think I'm going to be.

So I did a bit of a dig into the names and works that I didn't recognise and this compilation is a fascinating concept. Yes, there's a lot of harpsichord here BUT nothing overtly baroque. Indeed nothing from it was composed before the mid 20th century. Starting at the end of the night, Horovitz's Jazz Concerto really is jazz - it's cool and smooth, proper piano lounge stuff, and beautifully absurd played on a harpsichord! Tabakova's suite is more "classical" in style, indeed it picks up a lot of traditional folk and baroque themes from back in the day in homage to the composer Rameau. Julius Eastman's work would be, for me, an acquired taste. Even though it is cello-based, I really couldn't get into it when I listened to a performance online - however, I will give it another go in this setting and see if it makes any more "sense". However, I did enjoy The Centre is Everywhere by Finnis, it is ethereal and dreamlike and its atonality wasn't quite so grating.

The name that I did recognise on the list was that of Górecki and this is where today's clip comes from because a harpsichord concerto really should not sound like thrash metal. And yet, it does. It's utterly stunning.


Here's the full programme for today's Proms which you can listen to live on Radio 3 or on the iPlayer

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki
Harpsichord Concerto, Op. 40 (9 mins)

Edmund Finnis
The Centre is Everywhere (13 mins)

Julius Eastman
The Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc (21 mins)


Dobrinka Tabakova
Suite in Old Style, ‘The Court Jester Amareu’ (19 mins)

Joseph Horovitz
Jazz Harpsichord Concerto (15 mins)


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