COMPOSERS: Barber,Dvorak,Elgar,Porter,Puccini,Rodgers,Sousa,Sullivan,Vaughan Williams,Wood & Jackson and Parry,Works by R Strauss
ALBUM TITLE: The Last Night of the Proms 2004
WORKS: Five Mystical Songs; Carnival Overture; Liberty Bell march; Toccata festiva
PERFORMER: Thomas Allen (baritone), Simon Preston (organ), David Pyatt (horn); BBC Singers, BBC SO & Chorus/Leonard Slatkin
CATALOGUE NO: 2564 61956-2
This 2004 Last Night was Leonard Slatkin’s final concert as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. It was a rocky relationship, but ended fairly happily, as this highly engaging set of performances testifies. Dvoák’s Carnival Overture is a scampering, zesty curtain-raiser, and is followed by David Pyatt’s joyful, incredibly nimble reading of Strauss’s First Horn Concerto. Thomas Allen contributes ripely in Vaughan Williams’s Five Mystical Songs, and wryly in the Mikado set-piece ‘I’ve got a little list’, complete with updated references to e-mails, downloads and ‘violinists who on wearing wet T-shirts insist’.
Americana include Barber’s organ-based Toccata festiva and Sousa’s Liberty Bell march. Scottish, Irish and Welsh insertions punctuate Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea-Songs, all part, I suppose, of recent attempts to dilute excessive Anglo-centric patriotism. Yet I listen again (as an Irishman) to Jerusalem (in Elgar’s stirring orchestration) and ask myself whether that is really such a wonderful notion. Terry Blain