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2011 Proms Announced

14 April 2011

Undeniably the biggest music festival in the world kicks off again on 15 July. The programme can be found here, though the BBC appears to have got rid of the option to view the whole season at once on their website.

The litany of faults with booking and so on need not distract too much from the music, however. (I can’t resist: Why on earth does a season or weekend pass now only guarantee entry until 20 minutes prior to kickoff? How can the 2% + £1 booking fee still be so unreasonably high? Why, if we have our ‘Proms Plan’ sorted out well in advance, do we have to wake up at the crack of dawn to join the massed internet hordes all trying to get onto the Royal Albert Hall’s ticket website at 9am on 7 May – which will be a very early morning for yours truly.)

It’s always unwise to try to look at the schedule in one sitting, but some of the highlights – according to my tastes at least – seem to be as follows:

Prom 5: 18 July: Martha Argerich and the Capuçons in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto
Prom 6: 19 July: the Capuçons again, with Myung-Whun Chung in Brahms’s Double Concerto
Prom 7: 19 July: the Belcea Quartet with Valentin Erben in Schubert’s Quintet
Prom 13: 24 July: Verdi’s Requiem with Semyon Bychkov, Marina Poplavskaya, Joseph Calleja, and Ferruccio Furlanetto
Prom 15: 26 July: Vladimir Jurowski and the LPO in Liszt’s Faust Symphony
Prom 19: 29 July: Oliver Knussen’s annual Prom features Honegger, Bridge, Berg, Castiglioni, and Debussy’s La Mer
Prom 21: 30 July: the CBSO and Andris Nelsons in Strauss, Prokofiev, and… Walton?!
Prom 23: 1 August: Stephen Hough in Saint-Saëns, and Gianandrea Noseda in Beethoven and Liszt’s Dante Symphony
Prom 27: 4 August: Donald Runnicles in Brahms’s Second, and Hillevi Martinpelto in Strauss’s Four Last Songs
Prom 29: 5 August: Mahler’s Second with the Simon Bolivar Symphony, Gustavo Dudamel, Anna Larsson, and Miah Persson (buy tickets for this quick)
Prom 30: 6 August: the NYO concert with Gabriel Prokofiev’s Concerto for Turntables, and Jurowski in the other Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet
Prom 31: 6 August: Nigel Kennedy in solo Bach
Prom 36: 10 August: Steve Reich conducts the Music for 18 Musicians
Prom 47: 19 August: Bernard Haitink and COE in Brahms’s Third, and Emanuel Ax in the First Piano Concerto
Prom 49: 20 August: more Haitink and Ax in Brahms’s Fourth Symphony and Second Piano Concerto
Prom 54: 24 August: Marc-André Hamelin in Liszt
Prom 56: 26 August: Bychkov and the BBCSO in Mahler’s Sixth
Prom 57: 27 August: Maria João Pires in Mozart, and David Zinman in the Eroica
Prom 58: 28 August: Paul McCreesh conducts Elijah
Prom 63: 2 September: Iván Fischer and the brilliant Budapest Festival Orchestra in Liszt and Mahler’s First
Prom 67: 4 September: Sir Colin Davis and the LSO in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis

What is heart-warming is how much new and particularly British music there is this year: at the expense, even, of the usual glut of superstars. Mahler does well as ever (though giving us Roger Norrington in Mahler’s Ninth is just plain sadistic), but we seem to have a less Viennese focus: less Beethoven, certainly less Mozart, less Bruckner, less Haydn, and so on. In comes Bartók and Janáček, and, thankfully, Liszt gets a good go. Brahms does rather well too.

We don’t get the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw, or the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Still, beggars can’t be choosers, and everything is still £5 or less for those willing to stand. Despite enduring Mahler’s Eighth, Simon Boccanegra (to date the only Verdi opera I’ve ever chosen to attend), and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg on opening weekend last year, my enthusiasm for the Arena remains undimmed. And why not?

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