Saturday’s prom was a seminal musical experience. In the second half, the Aurora Orchestra, under the baton of Nicholas Collon, played Beethoven’s Eroica from memory. The first half started with a half-hour deconstruction of the symphony presented by the BBC’s Tom Service and the conductor. This included getting the audience to ‘dum dum’ part of the music, and introduced the different themes from different instruments. It was absolutely fascinating and beautifully presented and played. With no music or music stands, every musician (except cellists and double-basses) stood, and was able to move as the music took them.
As part of the Eroica analysis, it was pointed out that Richard Strauss had borrowed some of the phrases from the funeral march for his Metamorphosen – which piece was played (with music) during the first half. It was a total revelation for me. Metamorphosen was written at the end of WW II as Germany was disintegrating and Strauss was in despair at the destruction of German culture. Wonderful and very moving music, the audience completely silent for many seconds at the end.
The Beethoven was, of course, superb. The more so since we had had a masterclass in understanding how it was put together. There was as loud a roar of approval as I have ever heard at a prom when it finished. The conductor and orchestra taking bow after bow. And both conductor and orchestra were obviously enjoying the performance; when it was over, in a quite charming display of delight in their achievement, the musicians hugged each other.
I should also say that and we had excellent seats in the stalls, just yards from the stage. This provided an intimacy with the musicians while maintaining the acoustics of a large auditorium. It was a prom I shall not forget in a hurry.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs