Vaughan Williams spanned time and space, but Stephen Hough was the star

Published by Daily Mail

Prom 1: First Night of the Proms 2013 (Royal Albert Hall)

Stephen Hough

Stephen Hough and the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo
©BBC/Chris Christodoulou

I’ve never been to a First Night of the Proms before: it’s so much more elegant and stylish than the Last, and this one had a musical coherence of ambrosial heights. Or perhaps I should say Neptunian depths, since the overriding theme was oceanic, and the tide of surging waves bathed the audience in a symphony of wonder. Continue reading


The world’s greatest musician… and a first for the Ring Cycle

Published by ConservativeHome

Proms 2013
The 2013 Proms season begins in just a fortnight. Every year since I was 14 and thoroughly captivated by counterpoint, I’ve eagerly awaited publication of the BBC’s lavish Proms brochure. Some years, of course, it’s more lavish than others. I used to open it up and quickly highlight all the Beethoven gigs, which usually determined the magnitude of my spiritual rapture and sublime ecstasy. Now I’m a bit more eclectic in my tastes, and embrace just about anything except Bartók.

There are some undoubted highlights this season, which marks the 200th anniversary of the births of Wagner and Verdi (1813 was a vintage year). 2013 is also the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten and the 50th anniversary of the creation of Dr Who (sorry to mention that in the same paragraph, but this column is very broadly about ‘culture’ and there’s bound to be a few ConHomies who prefer Time Lords and Daleks to latent Risorgimento and synthesised Gesamtkunstwerk). Continue reading