Prom 10: Strauss and Beethoven

Every Prom that I have listened to so far has been through Radio 3, via the BBC iPlayer Radio app, and I have to say I’ve been really impressed. Although I’m new to the Proms, I don’t feel like I’m getting left behind in any way and have been able to follow the In Tune series as well during the intervals. Each Prom has its own flavour and Prom 10 was by no means any different.

There was a fantastic introduction to this Prom, which really sets it apart from the others up until now. There was a fascinating interaction with the audience, introducing the critical elements of Eroica which was later to be performed from memory! The Conductor had everyone singing the musical DNA of this music, breaking the fourth wall. This was all very humorous and done in such a way that it wasn’t patronising at all, and I felt that it was okay not to know what the music was.

He would then play games with the audience and the musical motifs, performing the ideas behind the music, he then explains the ebb and flow of this music which for someone like me, a ‘newbie’ to Proms and classical music is very much welcomed. This was a musical tour and helped me appreciate the music more.

We would have a slight break with the introduction of Strauss before pursing the feat that was to be the Eroica.

Metamorphosen is a story of the trajectory of life to death. It was written by Strauss in his 80s and the principals of this piece were growth and renewal. This is visibly reflected throughout. There was a mature approach to the opening with warm, rich but lamenting cellos. I didn’t realise that I had heard elements of this piece of music before. It was regal but tragic; if tears were music, this is how they would sound. This was beautifully implemented, rich in sound and subtly you could feel changes throughout. The metamorphosis.

I adore this type of music. It wafts of romanticism and you can feel the yearning and sorrowfulness in this music, you feel enticed into the struggle. It is a powerful piece of music leaking so much heartache.

Beethoven was to follow and as I mentioned, Eroica was to be performed from memory which is phenomenal to envisage. This is a piece of music that is 47 minutes in length! I sometimes feel that it’s hard enough to remember what’s on my shopping list, let alone three quarter of an hour’s worth of complex music from memory! I was certainly impressed by their skill and talent.

I did feel that this aided the performance considerably. There was noticeable freedom and comfort in the fluidity of the sound. You can hear the orchestra working together. This was a well crafted piece of work. It had all the elements that I was expecting from Beethoven – it was ceremonial, it was concise and consistent, but noticeably firm and authoritative. There was a fantastic explosion at the tumultuous end that really was spectacular.