Saturday, 2 August 2008

Tall Poppy syndrome . . .

I've been warned by a friend to beware what she calls the 'smug Londoner' syndrome. It's that rather tiresome "heard it, bought the T-shirt and it was all crap anyway" style of reviewing almost anything that's become prevalent here in the last few years. So I'm sorry if I do seem as though I'm part of that sometimes.

Still, I must admit this Proms season has a slightly discomfiting feel about it so far. We have been getting some rather 'traditional' programmes, and, alas, they have been not much to write home about, with some not very deeply considered conducting, and some rather average playing. And one particular oddity I simply cannot come to terms with, or grasp yet why I was so unaffected by it: Prom 8, the Obrecht and Josquin. I could not shake off the feeling that that was almost a fake. Or was it that it was performed in such an unusually cool almost off-hand Brechtian-alienated way that made me so uncomfortable with it? It wasn't like the Tallis Scholars and Peter Preston I thought I knew.

All the same, I know very well that the first half of the Proms season has often had makeweights in it over the last few seasons and it picks up in August, but there have been some spectacular and unexpected performances: the Haydn Cello Concerto, the Elgar 1 and the Stockhausen night to name my current three fave raves.

No comments: