Perhaps it would be more accurate to call these articles 'reactions' rather than 'reviews', but it's a bit late to change now. . . To read all the earlier pieces, scroll right down to the apple and click on "Older Posts" above it to the right.
The plan (or plot, maybe I should call it) is to do a bit of serious(-ish) reviewing of this year's BBC Proms concerts. something I've been meaning to do for ages. I won't be covering all of them; I'm getting fussy, these days, and anyway I'm a bit crippled now, so it isn't as easy to go up in the Gallery, or even to one of the posh seats, every night as it used to be. So, some will be reviewed 'live' and others via Radio 3. (Through a proper FM aerial and a hi-fi/studio quality tuner, not the rubbishy bitrate of digital Freeview or the internet.) I'll tell you if I listened live in the Albert Hall or via radio: something some newspaper reviewers don't do, I've noticed. It can be important; the effect isn't always the same . . . You may find me at odds with some other reviewers every now and then; I've walked out on more than one concert that got rave reviews before now, I warn you! Happy reading. . .and have fun . . .
wrote about hi-fi in various magazines once upon a time, and even wrote classical record reviews.
(He also wrote rock reviews under a pseudonym, but perhaps we shouldn't mention that.)
Living in London not that far from the Albert Memorial, he's been a regular Promenader and pre-Prom picnicer for, er, quite a few years . . .
It struck me I should offer a word of explanation (or an excuse?) about the style of the reviews you'll read here.
Some years ago, I had an interesting conversation with a classical recording engineer in between takes, who asked me why I didn't do sleevenotes. He'd liked my record reviews, because, he said, they gave a flavour of how the music sounded and what it felt like to listen to it. And even he found some of the more 'musicological' writers tedious. And he is far, far better musically educated than I am.
I was very gratified, because that was exactly what I wanted to do, and it's what I'm trying to do here, too. So you won't read much of bum notes, how a 'development' was mishandled, or an andante was slower (or faster) than marked on the score. There are plenty of other reviewers you can go to to look for that. And, of course, you can use the link to the BBC to download the programme notes.
For me, music is fun, and I hope it is for you too. Maybe, even, I can persuade some readers to listen to a piece in this year's Proms they might not, otherwise. That 'Listen Again' list on the BBC's website is very handy for that and if you're in Britain most Proms are repeated in the afternoon a week or so after the evening live broadcast.
And, of course, some recorded Proms are broadcast at odd times during the season by broadcasters in many other countries.
(And the reason I've never written sleevenotes like this is because, despite Tony, no-one's asked.Still.)
Followed by a rousing rendition of Tom Jones's Delilah . . .
(*If you don't get it—I thought at the time the gale of laughter that got probably totally mystified listeners abroad that day— the "anything for the weekend" was once a barber's euphemism for asking if his client would like to buy any condoms after he'd finished brushing the cut hairs off his shoulders . . .)
And, from the Arena half-way through one season, like this one, when it seemed people just couldn't (or wouldn't) stop coughingduring nearly every performance:
"That was an orchestral suite . . . not a cough suite!"
(The BBC handed out free coughdrops the next season, and I wish they still did.)
"Invite me to a party, a wedding, a tea dance or an orgy during those eight weeks," Richard Morrison once wrote in The Times, " 'Sorry', will come my reply. 'Rattle conducting Wagner that night. Unmissable. Start the orgy without me.' "
I just have a couple of nights free; give you the dates, shall I?
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A note on home recording
The BBC allows (technically, 'licences') listeners at home to make a recording of a broadcast for their private use. It is not, however, legal—or moral—to sell, re-broadcast (and that also means on the Internet!) or disseminate such a recording.
Please remember the BBC never makes a profit out of the Proms concerts themselves, it relies on the sale of its own recordings to other broadcasters and by means of cover CD's with the BBC Music magazine to recoup some (only in fact about half) of the costs.
Many orchestras, especially the London ones, and new composers, particularly, also rely on re-broadcast fees and royalties to keep them afloat financially, which, of course, they will never see if their concerts and compositions are widely distributed for free.
(As a struggling underpaid journalist in the past, some of my own material has been pirated and published without payment, and at times when I really could have done with the cash —just a tenner or two would have been welcome. We're not all paid huge salaries, or high fees, you know. So I know how it feels.)