The programme of the 2011 BBC Proms was announced today and full details of the season can be found on the BBC website, and in the Proms prospectus which is now available in the shops. We asked Gramophone's editorial team to reveal their individual Proms wish-lists and here are the tickets they'll each be after…
James Inverne, Editor
For curiosity value as well as much else, I'll be making a bee-line for the second Prom – Rossini's Guillaume Tell on Saturday July 16. Everyone knows the overture but the opera only seems to be performed once a generation, mainly because it's so darned hard to cast. The last time it was done in London was at Covent Garden in 1992, around the time Riccardo Muti's recording for EMI came out. This performance enshrines most of the cast of a new EMI set, with the tenor John Osborn under the baton of Antonio Pappano (though the yet-to-be-released recording has Gerald Finley as Tell, at this Prom Michele Pertusi takes up the bow and arrow while his Canadian counterpart is presumably on Wagner duty, cobbling shoes down at Glyndebourne). So any chance to hear this opera live is to be grabbed, but with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra and Pappano on such wonderfully musical form these days it is not to be missed.
Sarah Kirkup, Deputy Editor
I’m looking forward to the BBC NOW Prom on July 28 immensely. Being a flautist, I’ve long been a fan of Emmanuel Pahud – his tone, his versatility in all different kinds of repertoire, and his fine work in the Berlin Phil, too. I admire the fact that he’s commissioning all these new works for the flute, which challenge the traditional perception of the flute as a ‘pretty’ instrument. The Dalbavie on this programme is one such work, commissioned by Pahud during Mozart Year to reflect the flautist’s French heritage. Since interviewing Pahud about the work and having heard it on record, I’m keen to hear it live. And the Elliott Carter, too, will be fascinating. The programme is bookended by Beethoven’s First and Seventh symphonies.
Ever since I performed it at university, the Verdi Requiem has been one of my favourite pieces. It has everything – drama, quiet reflection, dazzling brass sections, virtuoso vocal passages and sections of incredible spirituality for the choir, too. The first recording of it I ever owned featured Ferruccio Furlanetto, bass, who’s also performing at this Prom. The tenor on my recording was Plácido Domingo, but I think Joseph Calleja will be a first-rate replacement – there’s a real buzz surrounding him at the moment and it will be great to him sing this demanding tenor role (July 24). And Semyon Bychkov has grown into one of the ‘must-see’ conductors of today.
Martin Cullingford, Editor, Gramophone Online
As there is not a guitar in sight (surely an oversight? Though not an unexpected one given that, when once asked which music he'd like played at his funeral, Roger Wright replied 'Spanish guitar music because I wouldn’t be there to hear it') I'll propose another Iberian-related concert. It's the 400th anniversary of the death of Tomás Luis de Victoria, and the late-night Prom on August 4 features his Lamentations for Good Friday and Requiem, performed by The Tallis Scholars. Choral music can work well in the ROH acoustic - perhaps head high into the dome and let it envelop you. You can learn more about Victoria in our recent exploration of his music and there's also a clip of The Tallis Scholars performing too.
Then three days earlier, on August 1, harpsichordist and conductor Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques perform music by Lully, Couperin Montéclair and Rameau at Cadogan Hall as part of the Chamber Proms. Rousseau and his excellent ensemble have a thrillingly vivid instinct for French Baroque, whether revelling in rhythmic vitality or a poignant lament.
Andrew Mellor, Reviews Editor
Last time Janácek’s Glagolitic Mass was at the Proms organist David Goode had the Albert Hall instrument sounding acrid, propulsive and downright rude. It was riveting. Despite Belohlávek’s esteemed presence on the podium it’s Goode’s return to the organ bench that makes the first night’s Glagolitic (July 15) unmissable for me.
The programme on July 22 seems built for the cut-and-thrust of the BBC Philharmonic, who I haven’t yet heard under their new conductor Juanjo Mena. I’ll be very keen to hear what the Spaniard gets from his Mancunians in Ravel Alborado and Rapsodie espagnole.
I always look out for Nordic orchestras at the Proms because they seem to deliver their performances with a very distinct combination of assurance and humility. Nielsen, Sibelius and Grieg from the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic (August 8) leaves only Iceland unrepresented – but you can’t have it all.
Finally I won’t want to miss Mahler’s Fifth on August 26. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been pretty impressive on disc recently – the Proms is a great chance to find out if orchestras like this, and their conductors, can be just as impressive live.
Antony Craig, Production Editor
So much to choose from! I shall be going to the first night (July 15) with Janácek’s Glagolitic Mass and Decca’s newest signing, 18-year-old Benjamin Grosvenor, playing Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto. A suitably exciting start to the season. Were I not going to be on holiday I would not be missing Martha Argerich and the Capuçon brothers in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under Myung-Whun Chung on July 18, but I’ll be back for Dudamel’s Mahler Second on August 5, with his Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra joined by the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. Featuring also the quite splendid Miah Persson, this is sure to be a very special night.
I want to catch Lang Lang’s compatriot Yuja Wang in Bartók’s Second Piano Concerto on August 16 and another must-see is the fabulous Polyphony’s Mozart Requiem under Stephen Layton on August 21. Their Bruckner Motets disc on Hyperion was one of my discs of 2007. The penultimate night (September 9) brings us a concert performance of Le Freischütz (Weber, arr Berlioz) with Sir John Eliot Gardiner. James Jolly has just seen this at the Opéra Comique in Paris and his account of the evening has fired me with enthusiasm for this climax to the season.
Charlotte Smith, Staff Writer
For me, the first few days of the Proms are incredibly exciting this year. The opportunity to see French brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon perform not only the Brahms Double Concerto on July 19, but also the Beethoven Triple with Martha Argerich the day beforehand, July 18, is not to be missed. Having interviewed the Capuçons recently about their partnership I would love to see it in action.
The other big draw comes on day three of the celebrations with a rare performance of Havergal Brian’s Gothic Symphony (July 17). I was lucky enough to witness the work live in Queensland, Australia at the end of last year, so can’t wait to see it performed again on its home soil - shaking the foundations of the Albert Hall!
James Jolly, Editor in Chief
“Hooray for Hollywood” (August 29) goes to the head of the queue for the sheer unalloyed pleasure of experiencing the John Wilson Orchestra in the flesh – Wilson’s tip-top scholarship combined with his verve (and ability to carry off white tie and tails with a panache not seen at the Proms since Sir Malcolm Sargent) makes this a must. Havergal Brian’s Gothic Symphony (July 17) is a once-in-a-lifetime treat and just the thing the Proms can do, and should do – and Martyn Brabbins is just the man for the job.
September 2 finds the Budapest Festival Orchestra playing music by Mahler (Blumine and the First Symphony) and Liszt (Totentanz with Dejan Lazic), and for great ensemble work this Hungarian orchestra is up there with the greats. And Iván Fischer makes even the most familiar music sound vitally new and exciting. And having just seen Weber’s Der Freischütz in Berlioz’s edition (French language and with recitative – see my blog), I’m eagerly looking forward to a second helping courtesy of Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his magnificent Monteverdi Choir and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (September 9).
David Threasher, Sub-Editor
I’ll be standing at the front, gazing up the soloists’ trouser legs for quite a few Proms this season. Picking highlights is always easier later in the season but in my crystal ball I see Havergal Brian’s Gothic Symphony (July 17), largely because who knows when we’ll get another chance to experience it again. There are the two concerts with the brothers Capuçon (July 18-19), with the divine Martha Argerich stirred into an already heady mix in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto. Then, a little later, there’s John Wilson’s “Hollywood” (August 29) – experience has taught me never to miss JW and his all-star band. And, of course, the Last Night – I’ll be the one hiding under the pink Union Jack.