Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Last Night

I've seen pretty much none of the Proms this year, for various reasons, but I did manage to see the entirety of last night's Last Night. Mezzo Sarah Connolly gave us Dido's Lament (with the chorus at the end of it) and a marvellous Songs of a Wayfarer, while Alison Balsom performed Haydn's trumpet concerto. I think perhaps trumpet music is better heard than seen - it just looks too effortful! The first half ended in grand style with Villa-Lobos's Choros no.10 - full-on Braziliana. Then the second half kicked off in grand, grand style with Malcolm Arnold's A Grand Grand Overture, which featured such guest artists as David Attenborough (floor polisher) and Goldie (2nd rifle, I think). Presenter Clive Anderson raised the possibility that this might have been the same floor polisher as used in the first performance, which would I suppose make it a period instrument. Sarah Connolly impressed again, in full Nelsonian regalia, with Rule Britannia, done apparently for the first time in a version Arne would recognise as his own. They're still doing the annoying link-up with the Proms in the Parks, which I just don't think makes for good television - the constant switching between venues for the various fanfares was just distracting. Still, the outdoor stuff did mean we got actual fireworks to accompany Handel's Royal Fireworks Music, which replaced the usual British Sea Songs bit (hurrah! no annoying horns from the audience!). We stayed for Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory but, as usual, switched off when the national anthem started, as good Irish people should (heh).

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