Prom 13: Malcom Sargent’s 500th Prom

50 years ago, Malcom Sargent died. This was the man who reshaped the Last Night of The Proms and was mentored by Sir Henry Wood. He championed English music when it was less favourable to do so and conducted 514 times in his Proms career! He is incremental in the way we experience The Proms today.

Prom 13 is the recreation of Sargent’s 500th Prom. The program is bursting at the seams and rather formally opens with the national anthem. This is a program that is an encapsulation of work and clear appreciation for such an esteemed conductor.

Once again, there were many pieces featured in this that I have not had the pleasure of listening to before. The first half saw Berlioz and Schumann. I found the piece by Berlioz busy in sound exhibiting a huge range of dynamics and warm sounds. Although serious in parts, this piece wasn’t all doom and gloom, there was some light-hearted moments and was quite jovial in spirit. Schumann was expectantly romantic in style. It was very sensitively played by Beatrice Rana. She managed to maintain a sweet music-box like sound with great anticipation. This is a piece of music that is honest in movement, sincere in quality. Schumann has managed to create a waterfall of sound that has been brilliantly executed.

The second half would be host to an array of composers: Elgar, Walton, Holst, Delius and Britten. It was noticeable how Sargent championed composers from his homeland. Most notably in this half, I found the Walton piece very enjoyable. It was jovial, fun and light-hearted and was much needed after the dramatic work by Elgar. I felt that Walton really captured humour in his composition, it was playful too in its take on ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.’ It had a light, much needed showtime quality.

Another piece of music that caught my attention in this Prom was On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring. It was luring and subliminal in the way it worked its magic. There was a real yearning and a beautiful showcase of brass.

This was a jam packed Prom, but it was obvious that Sargent had a jam packed personality and an outstanding musical career.