Lang Lang at the RAH

I was at the Royal Albert Hall this evening seeing Prom 56: Staatskapelle Dresden. The highlight – and the reason it sold out rather early on – was that Lang Lang – Chinese prodigy and one of the greatest pianists of his generation – was performing Chopin’s piano concerto no.2 in F minor.

The evening opened with the debut of a new piece of music by Rebecca Saunders, called Traces I think. Rather odd. I am actually something of a philistine and not a big classical music buff (unlike Sheridan who I went with – who is). But the piece was too niche for my liking. It would make great backing music for a horror movie. I was thinking of Alien all through the 15 minute piece. It also made me think of HR Giger (the artist who created the Alien artwork) – the music just really went with that kind of imagery in my mind. The response from the audience was muted.

When Lang Lang came on you could feel the excitement in the audience. He’s a star – rather flamboyant and quite quirky. The music was sublime – really lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a huge extended ovation at the end and you could tell the 4,000 in the concert hall had enjoyed it. He also did a short encore.

The following piece was An Alpine Symphony by Strauss. A long, moving piece. The orchestra was huge. I couldn’t count quite how many people were in it (and my inherent philistinia (sic) prevents me from knowing how many people make up a standard concert orchestra) but it looked like about 70 instruments. Very impressive.

We were in the upper circle and the seats were quite comfortable. In the olden days Sheridan’s employer maintained a box and we would go frequently each season (for peanuts). This is the only prom I’m going to this year, though Sheridan is going to a few others. He is sensible enough to only invite me to ones that have mainstream appeal. Whilst I can do ClassicFM, I don’t do Radio 3, if you get my drift.

13 thoughts on “Lang Lang at the RAH

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  1. Lovely! I’ve not been to a decent classical concert in ages.

    You write beautiful, descriptive narratives. It’s very nice to enjoy a properly written review.

    One question, though. As an American, our colloquial use of the word “prom” usually means a formal “dance” that one goes to. Your use of the word seems to mean a concert that one gets dressed up for?

    Do I have that right?

  2. tawandah: Sorry to jump in. I was reading the review and saw your comment.

    Prom is short for Promenade. The concerts are so called because many people stand up for the duration – unusual for a classical concert. The dress code is anything but formal: probably even less so than other concerts. I was there last night, standing in the arena. As far as I’m concerned, sitting in seats for the Proms is cheating! I thought the first piece was rubbish too – what I call “Emperor’s New Clothes” music. But on the other hand, commissions of weird, modern music are another thing the BBC Proms are famous for, so it’s just part of the experience.

    I don’t know why the American dances are so called, but presumably the etymology is similar: something to do with walking.

  3. I quite like some classical music but tend to forget who wrote what and how some of the tunes go.
    Last classical concert I went to was a Young Musician of the Year show at the Bridgewater Hall.
    We usually get a Proms event up here but it always seems to clash with holidays or football.

  4. I was supposed to go to the last night of the Proms at the Bridgewater Hall in July but unfortunately it was the week I had (un)swine flu so couldn’t go 😦 Gutted.

  5. Jen – ah, shame you missed it. Are you sure it was the Last Night as that’s usually in September? Proms concerts are good though, worth doing. Hopefully you’ll have another chance.

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    ‘The Clone Wars’ is one of our featured shows. We’re hoping to round up a few people who can occasionally contribute perspective (via an article/blog) on the shows – maybe a recent episode, future direction, plot shortcomings etc.

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  7. BSW – greetings.

    1) yeh, that’s OK to reprint what I wrote for Mad Men assuming you acknowledge author with link to blog which I guess would be standard. Seems like ages ago I did it. The real travesty was not owning by PVR when series 2 came out and I thus haven’t seen anything since series 1.

    2) sounds like it has potential and happy to discuss in more depth. I’m about to review series 3 of The Street which has just finished on BBC1 and which has been truly excellent.

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