Saturday, 24 July 2010

Prom gimmicks

Surely these "Dr Who" Proms, which sadly seem to have become an annual fixture, do less to promote an appreciation of Western orchestral music than to give hardly-needed extra publicity to a BBC money-spinner? I'm sorry to carp about a celebration of BBC-Wales' most successful product ever, and one which gives a London outing to the National Orchestra of Wales, but tonight's programme seems more suited to "Friday Night is Music Night".

The bulk is devoted to Dr Who cues by Murray Gold, no doubt a good writer of incidental music. But how much of the music rises above the serviceable? The Dr Who theme which everyone remembers is credited to Ron Grainer (not mentioned in the Radio Times listing) and was realised by Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (likewise not mentioned).

Two self-standing short pieces are included: John Adams "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" and Walton's "Overture: Portsmouth Point". The rest consists of "bleeding chunks": Holst's "Mars" (seemingly all we are to get of the "Planets" suite this year), "O Fortuna!" from Orff's "Carmina Burana" and "Ride of the Valkyries". The fact that the Nazis' two favourite composers provide the climax of the Prom is surely an accident, but may encourage class-based criticism of the Proms.

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