Lutoslawski and Polish Music celebrated at the BBC Proms in 2013
Suzie Maeder/Lebrecht Music & Arts
The centenary of Witold Lutoslawski is celebrated at the BBC Proms in 2013 and inspires a major Polish music strand which permeates the festival.
The BBC Proms is the world’s biggest and longest-running music festival and features leading international artists and orchestras. Spanning two months in July-September, the 2013 BBC Proms includes more than 90 concerts, mostly at London’s Royal Albert Hall, as well as plethora of daily talks, workshops, performances and family events.
Founded in 1895, the original aim of the Proms was to make the best-quality classical music available to the widest possible audience and that ambition remains central to the festival today.
‘Proms’ is short for Promenade concerts – informal and inexpensive concerts where ‘Promenaders’ stand to listen. The BBC has run the Proms since 1927 and today there are still 1,400 standing places available cheaply for each concert and extensive television, radio and online broadcasting of Proms concert in the UK and abroad.
The Lutoslawski celebrations at the BBC Proms is a major highlight of the 2013 festival and begin on the opening night in a televised concert with Sakari Oramo conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Lutoslawski’sVariations on a Theme by Paganini with pianist Stephen Hough (12 July). The BBC Symphony Orchestra returns with cellist Paul Watkins for Lutoslawski’s Cello Concerto on 17 July. This concert is conducted by composer Thomas Adés who also includes the world-premiere of his Totentanz, a commission in memory of Lutosławski, which sets an anonymous 15th-century text that accompanied a frieze destroyed when Lübeck’s Marienkirche was bombed in the Second World War.
Edward Gardener conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra and soloist Louis Lortie in Lutoslawski’s Piano Concerto on 7 August alongside the Symphonic Variations, before Antoni Wit brings the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra to the Proms for the first time in a programme which includes Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra.
Lutoslawski’s smaller-scale works are not ignored and there two concerts at London’s Cadogan Hall include thePartita with violinst Vilde Frang and pianist Michail Lifits (15 July), and Paul Watkins returns to conduct the English Chamber Orchestra and tenor Ben Johnson in Paroles tissées in a concert which places the music of Lutoslawski alongside the music of Benjamin Britten, whose centenary also falls in 2013.
The Polish strand at the 2013 BBC Proms also includes music by Penderecki, Gorecki, Syzmanowski and Panufnik, as well as a concert by Paul Van Nevel and his Huelgas Ensemble which puts the spotlight on music from the Polish courts of the Renaissance (22 July). British violinist Nigel Kennedy brings members of his Orchestra of Life from Poland to play alongside the Palestine Strings in a Late Night Prom performance of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (8 August).
Others highlights of the BBC Proms in 2013 include seven full length Wagner operas (including Daniel Barenboim conducting the first complete Wagner Ring Cycle at the Proms in one summer), a complete Tchaikovsky symphony cycle, major celebrations for Verdi and performances by many of the world’s leading conductors including Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Mark Elder, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev, Daniel Harding, Lorin Maazel, Sir Antonio Pappano, Yannick Nézét-Seguin, Jonathan Nott, Vasily Petrenko, Robin Ticciati, Xian Zhang and Mariss Jansons who celebrates his 70th birthday in 2013. Among the glittering soloists are Joseph Calleja, Joyce Di Donato, Janine Jansen, Nigel Kennedy, Nina Stemme and Mitsuko Uchida.
Polish music at the Proms
Lutosławski: Variations on a Theme by Paganini
Stephen Hough (piano), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo
Vilde Frang (violin), Michail Lifits (piano)
PCM 15 July
Lutosławski: Cello Concerto
Paul Watkins (cello), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Adès
Szymanowski: Symphony No.3 ‘The Song of the Night’
Michael Weinius (tenor), BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales/Thomas Søndergård
Music at the Polish Courts of the Renaissance
Huelgas Ensemble/Paul Van Nevel
PCM 22 July
Lutosławski: Symphonic Variations/Piano Concerto
Louis Lortie (piano), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Edward Gardner
Penderecki: Concerto grosso
Leonard Elschenbroich, Daniel Müller-Schott, Arto Noras (cellos), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Dutoit
Lutosławski: Concerto for Orchestra
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Antoni Wit
Panufnik: Tragic Overture/Lullaby
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Antoni Wit
Lutosławski: Paroles tissées
Ben Johnson (tenor), English Chamber Orchestra/Paul Watkins
PSM 24 August
Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No. 1
Baiba Skride (violin), Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
Górecki: Symphony No.3, ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’
Ruby Hughes (soprano), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä
For full details of the concerts are available at bbc.co.uk/proms.