The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra travelled to London yesterday. The occasion was to take part in the prestigious music festival in the world, the BBC Proms. The concert had sold out well in advance, as do all RLPO appearances at The Proms and 5,000 people awaited the start eagerly. The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and was televised for showing on BBC 4 this Sunday; programme to start at 7pm! The orchestra was conducted by Chief Conductor, Vasily Petrenko, and included a blockbuster of a programme.
Works on offer were the spectacular Festliches Praeludium by Richard Strauss which featured our internationally renowned organist and RLPC choir master, Ian Tracey on the spectacular Royal Albert Hall ‘Willis’ organ, the second biggest in the country. The organ Ian plays on a daily basis at Liverpool Cathedral, also built by Willis and Sons is the biggest!
It was composed to make an impact and aside from the incredible organ part features spectacular from a huge brass section containing ten trumpets, eight horns, trombones and tuba, large wind section, strings and powerful percussion.
The Proms audiences, especially the lively promenaders really enjoy this type of shamelessly gratuitous type of music and rose to their feat at the end of this first piece, cheering.
The next piece brought a welcome, brief rest for the RLPO from the RAH Summer heat, as Vasily put the famous BBC Singers through their paces in some a cappella music which gave the audience a chance to settle down again after the opening number. The orchestra returned to the stage to end the first half with my favourite work by Strauss, the ‘Four Last Songs.
The Four Last Songs featured Danish Diva, Inger Dam Jensen as soloist.
Ms Jensen was winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 1993 and now sings on the best and biggest stages in the world.
The RAH is one of the most iconic concert houses in the world. It is always a pleasure to play here. It is a beautiful building, crammed with history but the building holds a special place for me. I studied next door for four wonderful years at the Royal College of Music with the great David Mason.
The second half of the concert was the Second Symphony by Edward Elgar, a great work showing English music at it’s very best. There is lot of debate over which of Elgar’s two complete symphonies are the greatest. For years I always preferred the first but after years of performing both I now prefer the second. Why this is, I can’t explain, other than perhaps it is a matter of taste which matures as the years pass.
After the performance, which was received rapturously; I was wondering why the RLPO only feature at The Proms every two years. Each time we play there, the tickets sell out extremely quickly and the audiences always go crazy.
Another tradition, following the performance is to head, with all our cases and instruments, to the Queen’s Arms, in South Kensington. I first entered this pub on my first day at the Royal College of Music in 1981 and have been a frequent visitor ever since, especially when the RLPO appear at The Proms. Just about the whole orchestra, and many of our audience descend on the ’99’ en masse. The nick name ’99’ was bestowed upon the pub many years ago because the Royal College only had 98 rooms in those days.
The RLPO is now enjoying a well deserved Summer break before appearing in Sefton Park at the Liverpool International Music Festival (in Sefton Park), appearing at the RAH again, but for Classic fm this time, and touring Ireland and China.
Keep your eyes peeled for news…
Here is the Guardian Review – 5 stars!!!