Pick of the Proms 2010

What not to miss at this year’s concerts.

This year's BBC Proms, which run until 11 September, will pack the Royal Albert Hall in London with big names and even bigger orchestras. We've picked out some highlights, from blockbusters to quirkier chamber music and late night offerings.

Big stars, big sounds

Proms 6, 16, 27, 69: Complete Beethoven Piano Concertos
The young British pianist Paul Lewis is this year taking on the challenge of a Beethoven cycle -- performing all five of Beethoven's piano concertos in Prom concerts with different orchestras and conductors.

Prom 19: Sondheim at 80
With contributions from Bryn Terfel and Simon Russell Beale, this celebration of the Broadway innovator Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday promises to be quite a party. Expect Sondheim hits from Sweeney Todd, Company and A Little Night Music.

Prom 52: Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy
A chance to hear Ashkenazy's influence at work on his latest orchestra, the Sydney Symphony. With the ever-intelligent Hélène Grimaud as soloist, the programme includes Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major and music by Scriabin and Strauss.

Prom 56: Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä
The opportunity to see Vänskä at the podium is lure enough. With his own Minnesota Orchestra and a charged programme of Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No 1 and Bruckner's "Romantic" Symphony, this is a beg, borrow or steal kind of concert.

Proms 65 and 66: Berlin Philharmonic, Sir Simon Rattle
In these two Proms, Rattle and the Berlin Phil show off their many colours. Music by Mahler and Beethoven leads on to the Second Viennese School of Berg and Webern. Most intoxicating of all, however, is the prospect of Karita Mattila as swooning soloist in Strauss's Four Last Songs.

Prom 75: Monteverdi Vespers 1610
Celebrating its 400th anniversary this year, Monteverdi's masterwork has already had performances across the country. Directed by John Eliot Gardiner, this rendition by the Monteverdi Choir promises to be up there with the very best.

Prom 76: Last Night of the Proms
You know the drill: flag-waving, audience singing and strange outfits frame a musical celebration of national pride. See Renée Flemming make her debut as the Last Night soloist and hear the world premiere of a new work by Jonathan Dove.

Something a little different

Chamber Music Prom 6: Stile Antico
The young British vocal ensemble Stile Antico presents a gorgeous programme of Renaissance music inspired by the sensuous imagery of the Song of Songs.

Prom 7: Chopin Nocturnes
Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Chopin's birth with this intimate late-night Prom. The Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires performs a selection of the composer's Nocturnes.

Prom 42: Premiere, Huw Watkins, Violin Concerto
Huw Watkins's concerto is premiered by his regular collaborator Alina Ibragimova in a programme that also features music by Britten, Pärt and Shostakovich.

Prom 43: Arvo Pärt, St John Passion
Pärt's meditative take on the St John Passion makes a fascinating contrast to Bach's treatment. Performed by the BBC Singers under David Hill.

Prom 67: Last Night of the Proms 1910
For the first time in Proms history, we have not one, but two Last Nights. The first, a homage to the Proms founder, Henry Wood, is a re-creation of the 1910 event, complete with, well, none of the "traditional" music. It turns out that "Land of Hope and Glory" and "Jerusalem" were added in the 1950s. Hear music by Wagner, Beethoven and Edward German instead.

Getty
Show Hide image

Listening to recordings from the Antarctic, I felt I could hear the earth groan

The Science Hour on the BBC World Service.

A weekend of listening to the radio news ­revealed nothing but sounds of the sucker-punched going through their pockets in a panic and repeating, “I thought you had the keys.” So, never was talk of “a perfectly flat area of just whiteness” more alluring. The oldest Antarctic ice yet recorded was recently found. “For millions of years,” the presenter Roland Pease assured listeners  (25 June, 9am), “snow has been falling, snow on snow, all the while trapping bubbles of air and other chemical traces of climate . . . insights into the ice ages and warm periods of the past.” How was this ice located? “The finding part is pretty easy – you just go there and start shovelling, and ice comes up,” the lead geologist, Jaakko Putkonen, said.

There it was, buried under a layer of dirt “in barren wastelands” high in the middle of Antarctica. An “incredibly mountainous and remote and . . . quite hideous region, really”, Pease said, though it was sounding pretty good to me. The world dissolved into a single, depthless tone. Then Pease mentioned the surprising fizzing of this ancient ice – trapped air bubbles whooshing as they melt. Which is perhaps the thing you least expect about ice regions and ice caps and glaciers: the cacophony. Thuds and moans. Air that folds and refolds like the waving of gigantic flags. Iced water sleeping-dragonishly slurping and turning.

On Friday Greenpeace posted a video of the pianist Ludovico Einaudi giving a haunting performance on a floating platform to mark an imminent meeting of the OSPAR Commission, as it decided on a proposal to safeguard 10 per cent of the Arctic Ocean. Einaudi looked occasionally stunned by the groaning around him. A passing glacier popped and boomed like the armies of Mordor, ice calving from its side, causing mini-tsunamis. When last year I spent some time at the remote Eqi Glacier in Greenland, close to the ice cap, local people certainly spoke of the ice as if it were living: “It’s quiet today,” delivered as though gazing at the fractious contents of a Moses basket.

“This huge cake of ice, basically flat”, Putkonen said, perhaps longing for a moment of deep-space silence, for peaceful detachment. He wasn’t the only one being forced to reappraise a landscape very differently.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 30 June 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit lies