Classical Music Review: Prom 44

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 105 months ago
Classical Music Review: Prom 44

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So what would prompt an orchestral music virgin to hie themselves off to a classical concert? We can think of several things, but in this instance it turns out that a need for parental entertainment + populism + iconic London = Prom. But how to choose from the many? Well, you could take our chosen route: decide what days you're free, look at the listings, shrug and say "that'll do".

The great thing about the Proms is that they're fairly cheap; for middling £17.50 tickets we got two hours of entertainment in the red-plush splendour of the Royal Albert Hall. Our pot luck decision brought us to see the Budapest Festival Orchestra, starting off with a short Prokofiev piece "Overture on Hebrew Themes" with some fairly obvious (even to us) klezmer influences. Then we get Bartok's Violin Concerto No. 2 and a storming performance from soloist Leonidas Kavakos. The music was, to our philistinic ear, a little 'difficult' and something to experience rather than enjoy, but we were fascinated watching the musicians and spotting little things, like when the triangle made a brief appearance, or the amount of furious bowing from the string section.

In the second half we were treated to Dvorak's Symphony No.7 in D Minor, something that is described as "passionate" and "emotionally turbulent" by various sources. We found it lovely, in the sense of before Andie MacDowell managed to attach an acre of insipidness to the word. This just goes to show how little we know, and also how little you need to know to enjoy classical music (though such a sentence may make purists howl). For a deserved encore - yes, orchestras do encores, apparently - conductor Ivan Fischer announces that they have "no more serious music left", so they treat us to Strauss's Peasant's Polka, complete with rowdy singing.

As a gentle introduction into the ways of live classical music (for example, there's a pause between movements in longer pieces, in which it is acceptable to shuffle and cough, but not to applaud; and read up beforehand on what's being played cos they don't announce it), the informal Proms seem a pretty good bet. And we're fairly converted - to the extent we're checking out the cheap tickets to a performance of Mozart's Requiem in November...

The BBC Proms run until 12 September. For more information, see the Proms website.

Last Updated 20 August 2009