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8:00 pm Saturday 20 September: Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis

John E GardinerCelebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Monteverdi Choir returns to the Proms with its founder-conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner for one of the greatest of all choral works – Beethoven’s mighty setting of the Mass.

It’s a work the choir has performed throughout its history, most recently in a second acclaimed recording. The unique atmosphere of a Late Night Prom is the perfect setting for this tumultuous spiritual journey, in which we acknowledge doubt and search for redemption.

According to Schindler, one of Beethoven’s closest friends, Beethoven’s personality changed at the beginning of the composition of the Missa Solemnis. Schindler described his state as “Erdenentrucktheit,” translated as “oblivion of everything earthly”. Indeed, he seemed to transport into another world during the compositional process, as illustrated by Schindler’s description of a visit to Beethoven.

"In the living room, behind a locked door, we heard the master singing parts of the fugue in the Credo – singing, howling, stamping… the door opened and Beethoven stood before us with distorted features, calculated to excite fear. He looked as if he had been in mortal combat with the whole host of contrapuntists, his everlasting enemies."

56) Lucy Crowe (sop), Jennifer Johnson (mezzo), Michael Spyres (ten), Matthew Rose (bass), Monteverdi Chorus, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique/John Eliot Gardiner

BEETHOVEN: Missa Solemnis in D Op 123

This performance was recorded live in the Royal Albert Hall, London by the BBC

8:00 pm Monday 22 September: Simon Rattle

Simon RattleAn all-Russian programme inspired by dance opens with Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances – the composer’s blazing ‘final spark’ and, for many, his finest orchestral work. Embracing jazz, plainchant and the waltz, this mercurial piece is a showcase of dramatic skill.

After the interval we enter the Russian fairy-tale world of Stravinsky’s The Firebird, the vivid, folk-infused ballet score for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes that established the young composer as a rising star.

Created in 1910 in conjunction with choreographer Michel Fokine The Firebird is based on Russian folk tales of the magical glowing bird of the same name that is both a blessing and a curse to its captor.

It has historic significance not only as Stravinsky's 'breakthrough piece' but also as the beginning of the collaboration between Diaghilev and Stravinsky that would also produce Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. The ballet was premiered by the Ballets Russes in Paris on 25 June 1910 conducted by Gabriel Pierné.

Sixty-six programmes

(58) Berlin Phil/Simon Rattle

RACHMANINOV: Symphonic Dances Op 45; STRAVINSKY: The Firebird

This concert was recorded live in the Royal Albert Hall by the BBC

8:00 pm Wednesday 24 September: Nina Stemme

Nina StemmeStrauss’s setting of Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé marks Strauss’s emergence as a mature opera composer. Symphonic in concept and orchestral treatment, it has a tone-poem-like structure that intensifies the play’s aura.

The first American appearance of Salomé at the Met in January 1907 turned into a debacle: revulsion in influential circles led to the opera’s being dropped after a single performance. Even today this shocking drama remains a perennial challenge for the director. It’s a tale of youthful flirtation turned to morbid obsession culminating in a “dirty-dance” decapitation.

How to portray this tastefully is not easy.

Even by Strauss’s own admission, the title role demands the impossible: a soprano with the lungs of Isolde and the body of Paris Hilton, a woman who can bring off the melodrama convincingly, dance seductively and deliver her notes over a 120-piece orchestra.

(62) STRAUSS: Salome, an opera in one act

Herodes………………………Burkhard Ulrich
Herodias……………………...Ildiko Komlosi
Salome……………………….Nina Stemme
Jochanaan……………………Samuel Youn
Narraboth……………………Thomas Blondelle
Page………………………….Ronnita Miller
1st Jew……………………….Paul Kaufmann
2nd Jew………………………Gideon Poppe
3rd Jew………………………Jörg Schörner
4th Jew………………………Clemens Biber
5th Jew………………………Andrew Harris
1st Nazarene…………………Noel Bouley
2nd Nazarene………………..Carlton Ford
1st Soldier……………………Ante Jerkunica
2nd Soldier…………………..Tobias Kehrer
Cappadocian…………………Seth Carico
Deutsche Opera, Berlin/Donald Runnicles

This performance was recorded in the Royal Albert Hall, London by the BBC

8:00 pm Friday 26 September: Last Night of the Proms

Roderick WilliamsWe pay tribute to the late John Tavener with his touching Song for Athene, and mark the 50th anniversary of the film Mary Poppins with a singalong medley.

Arnold’s Peterloo overture receives its first performance in a new choral version with lyrics by Sir Tim Rice, while our Strauss-anniversary celebrations conclude with the Proms premiere of the composer’s massive cantata Taillefer.

The nautical flavour of Ansell’s Plymouth Hoe (and its brief quotation of Rule, Britannia!) forms an upbeat to the traditional Last Night favourites including Ol Man River, Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho Pomp and Circumstance March and of course, Jerusalem, led by baritone Roderick Williams.

(66) Elizabeth Watts (sop), John Daszak (ten), Roderick Williams (bar), Janine Jansen (vln), BBC Chorus & SO Sakari Oramo

HIGGINS: Velocity (world première of the BBC commission); ARNOLD arr Rice: Peterloo, Overture; WALTON: Popular song, from Façade; CHAUSSON: Poème Op 25; TAVENER: Song for Athene; STRAUSS: Taillefer Op 52; KHACHATURIAN: Sabre Dance, from Gayane; RAVEL: Tzigane; SHOSTAKOVICH: Polka, from Five Pieces; KERN arr Williams: Ol' man river, from Showboat; TRAD arr Williams: Joshua fit the battle of Jericho; SHERMAN: Mary Poppins medley; ANSELL: Plymouth Hoe; ARNE arr Sargent: Rule Britannia; ELGAR: Pomp & Circumstance March No 1; PARRY arr Elgar: Jerusalem; TRAD arr Britten: God Save the Queen (recorded in the Royal Albert Hall, London by the BBC)

This concert was recorded in London’s Royal Albert Hall by the BBC