Lang Lang, by now surely qualifying as a Proms regular, having played here four times, has called the Last Night of the Proms probably the biggest event on earth for classical music.. and its not too much of a stretch to say that this applies equally to the whole season two months of exceptional concerts, with promming tickets still only 5, and even cheaper if you get a Season Ticket. There are 74 concerts to choose from in the Royal Albert Hall alone, plus 12 at Cadogan Hall, not to mention the daily introductory events at the Royal College of Music and the Proms in the Park celebrations.
So, where do you start, and what do we recommend? musicOMH writers include devotees of just about every classical music style and epoch, so this will be a personal choice of what were most looking forward to this season. Cannily, the planners have leapt right in with a fabulous, just-cant miss-it first weekend Friday 15th begins with a new work by Judith Weir, Stars, Night, Music and Light and takes in Brahms Academic Festival Overture and Liszts 2nd Piano Concerto, with Benjamin Grosvenor making his Proms debut with the solo part.
Jančeks wonderful Glagolitic Mass takes up the second half, and if youve never heard this neglected masterpiece now is your chance; the soloists are nearly all Czech, as is the conductor, Jiří Bělohlávek. Janček specialist Keith McDonnell will review what is likely to be a stirring performance.
Saturdays concert is no less alluring; Antonio Pappano conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome, in Rossinis William Tell. This is a rare outing for Rossinis work about the founding fathers of Switzerland, and its perhaps best known to opera lovers as the one with all those high Cs John Osborn is the lucky man to sing them here. The cast also includes Matthew Rose and Patricia Bardon, and the performance begins at 18.30.
Follow that, as they say and the riches continue with a starrily cast Verdi Requiem on July 24th Marina Poplavskaya is the soprano soloist, Joseph Calleja takes the tenor part. Robin Holloway brings a new work, his Fifth Concerto for Orchestra on August 4th, teamed with Strauss Four Last Songs in which the soloist is Hillevi Martinpelto, and the concert concludes with Brahms 2nd Symphony. The BBCSO is conducted by Donald Runnicles.
Mahlers 2nd symphony takes centre stage on August 5th, with Miah Persson as soloist, the National Youth Choir and the Simn Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Theres another treat for Mahlerians on the 7th, when Edward Gardner conducts the BBCSO in Das Klagende Lied, with yet more starry soloists including Melanie Diener and Stuart Skelton. The evenings other work is Brahms Violin Concerto in D minor, with Christian Tetzlaff as the soloist.
On Sunday August 14th theres an unusual concert of British music, including Brittens Cantata Misericordium, Sinfonia da Requiem and Spring Symphony, with Christopher Maltman and John Mark Ainsley among the soloists. The concert begins with the world premiere of Joby Talbots arrangement of Purcells Chacony in G minor. More Britten on Sunday 21st, with the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, which is followed by yet another premiere, Colin Matthews No Mans Land, and Mozarts Requiem with Ian Bostridge and Emma Bell among the soloists.
Glyndebourne makes its annual visit to the Proms on the 25th, with its stunning production of Handels Rinaldo definitely one not to be missed. On the 28th, theres another unmissable event for lovers of vocal music Mendelssohns Elijah is performed by the Gabrieli Consort & Players, with Simon Keenlyside in the baritone part. Opera gets another evening on the 9th of September, with a rare outing for Webers Der Freischtz in the 1841 French version, with recitatives by Berlioz; John Eliot Gardiner conducts the Monteverdi Choir and the Orchestre Rvolutionaire et Romantique: Andrew Kennedy is Max, Sophie Karthuser sings Agathe.
Finally, the Last Night should be an especially spectacular bash, with Lang Lang giving us Liszts 1st Piano Concerto, Susan Bullock the Immolation scene from Gtterdmmerung, and all the usual Arne and Parry. If you cant get in to the hall itself, there will be Last Night celebrations in Hyde Park, and live showings on BBC Big Screens across the UK. Ftes and Fireworks!
You can listen to all the concerts on BBC Radio 3 and 24 on BBC television, all accessible for at least a week afterwards on the iPlayer and often repeated later in the season. All details can be found on the Proms website.