This year's BBC Proms programme offers the usual quality, but not enough quantity or range for a true string geek
The 2015 BBC Proms listings have just gone online. It’s always one of the big moments of London’s classical music press year, and that of string geeks, as it tends to define the summer’s classical musical entertainment. I usually complain about something, of course. Mostly that there aren’t enough string concerts (I count only 16 this year, across two months of 76 concerts); or that there aren’t enough older esteemed players, which also seems to be the case again this year. The one stand-out (and not that old) exception is Yo-Yo Ma, who will play the Bach Suites, which is bound to be a highlight. The Emerson Quartet also represents the somewhat older-guard, performing the Shostakovich Quintet with Elisabeth Leonskaja.
Apart from that, there are familiar faces and familiar warhorses: Nicola Benedetti plays the Korngold; Julia Fischer Tchaikovsky; Nikolaj Znaider Brahms; Julian Rachlin Sibelius; Alina Ibragimova Mendelssohn. And I’ve nothing against Ibragimova, but she gets a total of four performances, which is a shame when there are so many other good players out there. More off-beat repertoire choices include the Nielsen Concerto played by Henning Kraggerud and Leila Josefowicz giving the UK premiere of a concerto by Luca Francesconi. Other welcome names include Lawrence Power and Jack Liebeck, Apollon Musagète Quartet, and Guy Braunstein, who plays as part of Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
It’s a quality line-up, but there could be so much more – especially on the chamber music front. And where are the grey greats? The Kremers and Zukermans and Isserlises and Hoffmans? I guess I’ll just have to make do with Yo-Yo – if I can get a ticket!
Photo: courtesy of Indiana University