Wednesday 27 April 2022

Ethel Smyth, Doreen Carwithen, George Walker, RVW & more: BBC Proms 2022 launches

BBC Proms launch 2022 at Printworks
BBC Proms launch 2022 at Printworks

Last night (26 April 2022), the BBC Proms launch took place at Printworks in Surrey Quays, a vast venue best known for more contemporary types of music, and a former industrial building. Approaching the building from Canada Water station, I suddenly realised that I had been there before, when it was Harmsworth Quays printworks, where the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and the Evening Standard were printed. But the industrial machinery is now gone, yet the striking spaces remain and were filled with music and talk, as the classical music industry celebrated the return of the BBC Proms to full form. We heard music from Nardus Williams (soprano) and David Bates (harpsichord), and from Tredegar Band.

This year is relatively light on anniversaries. There is RVW's 150th birthday, of course, with a fine selection of works including A Sea Symphony and Symphony No. 4, plus the Oboe Concerto and the Tuba Concerto, and these latter two have generated a thread of unusual concertos running through the season including Kalevi Aho's Theremin Concerto 'Eight Seasons' and Schnittke's Viola Concerto.

Other important anniversaries include Doreen Carwithen (1922-2003) - her overture Bishop Rock, Overture 'ODTAA (One Damn Thing After Another)' and String Quartet No. 2 are featured - and George Walker (1922-1983) - his Lilacs, Trombone Concerto and Variations for Orchestra are featured.

This year, Glyndebourne Opera's prom features their new production of Ethel Smyth's The Wreckers in what is probably the work's first professional London performance since it featured at the Proms in the 1990s. Around this, the season has something of a celebration of Smyth's music. Sakari Oramo conducts the BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra in Smyth's Mass in D, Ben Goldscheider and Elena Urioste are the soloists in Smyth's Concerto for Violin and Horn with Kazuki Yamada and the CBSO, and Smyth's songs and early Piano Trio also feature. Other 20th century composers worth noting include Michael Tippett's Symphony No 4, Florence Price's Symphony No. 1, Joseph Horovitz' Lady Macbeth  a scena, Martinu's Concerto for Two Pianos and Grace Williams' Sea Sketches.

Large scale works are back this year, so as well as the RVW and Smyth, the season opens with Verdi's Requiem with Sakari Oramo conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Chorus and Crouch End Festival Chorus, and there are performances of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius (with Edward Gardner conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir), four Mahler symphonies (1, 2, 4 & 7),  Brahms' A German Requiem (with Ilan Volkov conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain) and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis (John Eliot Gardiner conducting the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestre Revolutionaire et Romantique).

As well as Glyndebourne's contribution, there are other operas in the season. Mark Elder conducts the Halle in Puccini's Il Tabarro, whilst David Bates conducts La Nuova Musica in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. No strictly an opera, but Handel's Solomon also features with Sofi Jeanin conducting the English Concert and the BBC Singers.

And, of course, visiting orchestras are back with contributions from the Australian World Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Metropole Orkest, Oslo Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne.

Premieres this year include works by Thomas Ades, Kalevia Aho, Julian Anderson, Sally Beamish, Hannah Eisendle, Danny Elfman, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Philip Glass, Hildur Gdnadottir, Gavin Higgins, Betsy Jolas, Matthew Kaner, Nicole Lizee, Missy Mazzoli, Cassandra Miller, Marius Neset, Kaija Saariaho, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Errollyn Wallen, Jennifer Walshe, and James B Wilson, and other contemporary composers featured include Harrison Birtwistle, Valerie Coleman, Jessica Curry, Ligeti, James MacMIllan, Wynton Marsalis, Kow Otani, Jim Root, Caroline Shaw, Yoko Simomura, Huw Watkins, Jimmy Webb, Judith Weir, Philip Wilby, and Iannis Xenakis.

Besides the regular schedule of performances at the Royal Albert Hall, there are proms in Battersea, Belfast, Truro, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow and Sage Gateshead as well as at Printworks

There is much more besides, and Tony will be giving his own personal selection tomorrow. Full details from the BBC Proms website.

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