Prom 36: Late-Night Mixtape

“In the spirit of the ‘mixtape’, first made popular in the 1980s, we present a live, late-night wind-down. It’s time for a digital detox so switch off your phone and let this concert calm the mind and nourish the soul.” [BBC Proms website]

12 Ensemble | Martin James Bartlett (piano) | Tenebrae/Nigel Short | Soumik Datta (sarod) | Cormac Byrne(percussion)

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Jones

Reviewed: 13 August, 2019
Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London

BBC Proms 2019's Prom 36The Late-Night Mixtape Prom presented a mixture of eclectic sounds in a late-night wind-down, with Nigel Short conducting vocal group Tenebrae alongside string orchestra the 12 ensemble. The night featured Martin James Bartlett as a piano soloist and Soumik Datta on the traditional Indian string instrument, the sarodPhotograph: Mark Allan / BBCThis Proms Mixtape compilation was a strange cache indeed – from plainsong to the sarod. To call it eclectic would be an understatement.

The play button was pressed and the first track began, Stars; a celestial hum of wine-glasses amplified into the full glory of Tenebrae to a video backdrop of asteroid high-speed space travel. The reflective theme continued with Vladimir’s Blues, for piano. Then Arvo Pärt’s fractious mysticism, Fratres, and returning to reflective melancholy with Vasks’s The Fruits of Silence, piano and choir.

This time-capsule of the digital dark age yielded the holy relics of the slow movement of a J. S. Bach keyboard Concerto, the first of Schubert’s ‘Death and the Maiden’ String Quartet and a Chopin’s Nocturne (D-flat); a communiqué to future generations of the lost glory of a once-great civilisation.

Hazy distant summers came to life with Soumik Datta’s sarod opuses, such as the luxurious Morning Song, then the meditative choral glory of Gjeilo’s The Spheres, Lobo’s Versa est in luctum, John Tavener’s The Lamb and the sombre sublimation of Max Richter’s On the Nature of Daylight continued the theme of reflection. There was no applause until the end of the concert – by request (Proms management should do so before each concert). Tenebrae was extraordinary.

This Mixtape Prom was exquisite and profoundly affecting, reminiscent of Tarkovky’s Solaris, aboard a spaceship orbiting, with only the fading memory of a deceased spouse for company.

Playlist (not edited for house-style)
Eriks Esenvalds Stars
Max Richter Vladimir’s Blues
Arvo Pärt Fratres
Soumik Datta Improvisations on sarod
Peteris Vasks The Fruits of Silence
J.S. Bach Keyboard Concerto BWV 1056/II
Ola Gjeilo The Spheres
Schubert Death & the Maiden, 1st movement
Soumik Datta, arr. Iain Farrington Morning Song
Lobo Versa est in luctum
Chopin Nocturne in D flat major
Soumik Datta, arr. Iain Farrington Clouds (world premiere)
Max Richter On the Nature of Daylight
Tavener The Lamb

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