Notes and Editorial Reviews
VIENNESE NIGHT AT THE BBC PROMS
James Loughran, Walter Susskind, János Fürst, cond; Sheila Armstrong (sop); Royal PO; BBC SO; BBC Northern SO
ICA ICAD 5026 (DVD: 88:35)
If the word “delightful” were used to describe a classical music video, this would be the one. We have a selection of Johann Strauss II waltzes and polkas, along with his father’s setting of the Radetzky March, Lehár’s Gold and Silver Waltz, and The Light Cavalry Overture of Suppé. All are performed with affection and warmth. But the key to enjoyment here is, to a large degree, the audience.
The Proms in London is an experience unlike any other. Taking place in Royal Albert Hall, London’s magnificent, round multipurpose 1871 venue, the Proms is an eight-week summer season of reasonably priced concerts (one every night). In addition to the 5,000 seats in the hall, there is a section in front of the stage for standees, known as “prommers.” Prommers are a unique experience; groups of them might create a chant to shout at performers (not during the music), and there is an interaction between them and the musicians and the music that does not exist anywhere else in the world. In these excerpts from various Viennese nights in the 1970s, we see the prommers swaying, bouncing up and down (not always together with the music, and not always together with each other), and in a few cases (
The Blue Danube
for instance) dancing with each other. You might think that this is, or should be, irrelevant to your experience with the music, but in fact it is central to it. You feel like you are there—and you certainly cannot help smiling.
Nine of the 16 performances here are conducted by James Loughran, three by Walter Susskind, and one—a bonus track—by János Fürst. Sheila Armstrong sings two excerpts from
. While none of these performances are revelatory, all of them are idiomatic, and all benefit from the conductor actually interacting with the audience. The sound and video quality from these BBC telecasts is fine; some are stereo, some are mono, but all are well balanced and clean. The bonus track featuring the Suppé, conducted by Fürst, is not quite of the high quality of the other 15 tracks, a fact noted in the booklet, but it is more than adequate.
When you want a break from the emotional rigors of a Shostakovich or Mahler symphony and wish to spend an hour and a half smiling from pure pleasure, this DVD will do the trick.
FANFARE: Henry Fogel
Recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974-1979.
Picture format: NTSC 4:3
Sound format: Enhanced Mono, Ambient Mastering / LPCM Stereo
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Menu language: English
Running time: 89 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)