Continuing our daily coverage of what's on at The Proms 2019, Susan Omand has a quick look at the programme for Prom 24: Relaxed Prom and Prom 25: Tchaikovsky, Sibelius & Weinberg ...
If the programme for Prom 24 looks a little familiar to you, that's because it's two of the three pieces that were in last night's prom. Why repeat them? They are the music for a Relaxed Prom which is a fairly new thing at the Proms and a fantastic idea. Relaxed Proms are, just as they say, Proms in a more relaxed environment – suitable for children and adults with autism, sensory and communication issues and learning disabilities, as well as people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind or partially sighted. The programme is always shorter, with no interval, and there is a more relaxed attitude to movement and noise in the auditorium, plus ‘chill-out’ spaces outside the auditorium for when it all gets a bit too much. You can move about, dance, sing or just listen and nobody will reprimand you. It's the perfect way to include people who may otherwise not have access to a more "traditional" and shushy classical music concert.
The evening Prom has more Tchaikovsky with his not at all pathetic Pathétique symphony, which, incidentally, also has nothing to do with the Beethoven sonata of the same name, written almost 100 years earlier. Before the interval we get another premiere as Mieczysław Weinberg's Cello Concerto gets its first performance on a London stage. Initially written by the Polish born Soviet composer in 1948, the work didn't see the light of day at all until 1957, four years after the death of Stalin and this will be the first time it has been played in full in London.
But it is the first piece of the evening that I want to share with you because it holds a specific memory for me of my father. The music was used as the theme tune to the current affairs TV programme This Week in the 1960s and 1970s and my Dad really liked the music but didn't know what it was called to go and buy a recording of it. Cue much letter writing to the BBC over several weeks and, yes, they did respond and let him know that it was the intermezzo of the Karelia Suite by Sibelius. Thus armed with official letter on official BBC stationery, off father heads to the big posh music/record shop in Aberdeen (Bruce Millers on George Street, if you knew Aberdeen back then) and asks the kid behind the counter (it was a Saturday) for Sibelius' Karelia Suite. Blank look. "You know it," said father, "it's the theme tune to This Week on the TV." Still nothing. Dapper suited supervisor appears and father repeats his request. "Oh yes," said supervisor, "that's the theme that goes..." and proceeded to hum the tune. It turns out that Dad didn't need to have done all the letter writing after all, just hum the tune in the music shop!
Here's the theme...
Here's the full programme for Today's Proms which you can listen to live on Radio 3 or on the iPlayer
Prom 24 - 11:30
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Swan Lake(35 mins)– excerpts
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini(23 mins)
Prom 25 - 19:30
Karelia Suite(15 mins)Henry Wood Novelties: UK premiere, 1906
Cello Concerto(31 mins)London premiere
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Symphony No 6 in B minor, 'Pathétique'(51 mins)
Image - Photo © Chris Christodoulou