Leonard Slatkin introduces his concerts in Proms 2002

Reviewed by: Leonard Slatkin

Reviewed: 18 July, 2002

This week marks the second year in which I will be leading the BBC Symphony in the opening and closing of the Proms. Each of my programs has a special personal touch.

For the First Night on 19 July, we are joined by the Choral Arts Society of Washington in a performance of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast. I enjoy these collaborations with disparate musical organizations as it really brings different musical thoughts together.

In addition, we are playing a work that I commissioned two years ago, Roberto Sierra’s Fandangos. It is based on the harpsichord piece by Soler and subsequently adopted by Boccherini. Sierra’s work fits nicely into the Spanish theme that runs through the Prom season.

Next Tuesday (23 July) is a very special night. As you know, the Last Night from this past September was altered because of the events of the 11th. Our soloist that evening, Frederica von Stade, was unable to fly here to sing Ravel’s Shéhérazade. So it was natural that we would include it in this season’s offerings. The occasion also marks, believe it or not, Flicka’s first ever Proms appearance. We also have the premiere of a new Piano Concerto by David Sawer.

In August, on Sunday the 18th, I lead a program which contains one of the pieces that became associated with me early in my career, Prokofiev’s Fifth symphony. Surprisingly, I have never conducted it in London before.

On September 10 we have André Watts playing Rachmaninov’s concerto No.2. André and I go back a long way and I love making music with him. This program also includes a work that I have never done in London before. Shostakovich’s massive 8th Symphony.

And as for the Last night, on September 14, I suspect many of you have read all sorts of things about what we are and are not doing. I will only add that the traditions are back but they are not the traditions of the last twenty years, but stretch back even further. And yes, Rule Britannia is in, but not in the Sargent version. Rather it is the true ending of the Wood Sea Songs, in which the audience is invited to sing along. But no coloratura voice before it, just the orchestra. There will be a lot of surprises this night so b+B82e prepared.

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