Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Boulez at the Proms: part II (Ensemble Intercontemporain/Prom 65)

Prom 65: Bártok, Boulez, and Carter (Baldur Brönniman cond. Ensemble Intercontemporain, Royal Albert Hall)
The Royal Albert Hall seemed to breathe. Only say 1-2,000 stayed up late for the final concert (2nd September). A useful tip I learned was that for this kind of thing, you can safely queue and prom after the first concert.
Baldur Brönniman and the Ensemble Intercontemporain will have understood this was a good turnout for something finishing around midnight.
The first piece was my favourite; Bartók’s Three Village Scenes. Stunning and exotic. The first Mezzo from the BBC Singers took a few lines to warm up but was very impressive in her volume and long lines. Much sorrow was apparent here, but the programme noted that peasant joy can sound like sorrow. 
Boulez at the Proms. Own photograph.
Boulez, Anthèmes 2 Jean-Marie Conquer produced an extraordinary deconstruction here with computerized effects by IRCAM (Andrew Gerzso, Carlo Laurenzi and Jérémie Henrot) adding to the magic of the piece. Lighting served to intensify this extraordinary display of musicianship. This was almost the sorcerer’s apprentice cartoon brought to life as the whole hall seemed to revolve around just one musician.
Elliot Carter’s Penthod had its première at the Proms. Undoubtedly this was much harder to process, but it held attention at a very late hour.
Finally Boulez again ‘Cummings is der Dichter’ saw the BBC Singers with male and female voices. The genius of setting E.E. Cummings to music cannot be understated.
The evening in its two Proms sought to celebrate Boulez at the Proms, both as conductor and composer.
Full programme
Béla Bartók, Three Village Scenes  
Pierre Boulez, Anthèmes 2
Elliott Carter, Penthode
Pierre Boulez, cummings ist der dichter
Jeanne-Marie Conquer violin
BBC Singers
Ensemble intercontemporain
Baldur Brönnimann conductor 

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