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Prom 23: Beethoven, Saint-Saens and Franz Liszt at the Royal Albert Hall

by Event Reporters

On 1st August 2011, the beautiful balmy weather was fitting for Prom 23 at London’s Royal Albert Hall, with works by Beethoven, Saint-Saëns and Liszt all conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. Beethoven's Symphony No.4 in B flat major, commissioned by Count Franz von Oppersdorff in 1804, was performed. With its sunny surfaces and barely contained energy, this piece may feel lightweight and summery, and yet is still taut with muscular strength, propelled with unstoppable momentum and shot through with its composer’s unmistakable stylistic fingerprints.
Saint-Saëns, ‘Egyptian’– Piano Concerto No.5 in F major, was performed by Stephen Hough. In the mid-1890s during a stay in Egypt, Saint-Saëns was inspired by the cacophony of sounds that drifted from the river Nile, such as the frogs chorus and ancient love songs the of the Nile boatmen. Franz Liszt's Dante Symphony was performed by soprano Julia Doyle, the BBC Philharmonic and the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus. Liszt took nearly a decade to complete the Dante Symphony. Inspired by the epic poem, it describes Dante's travels through Hell, Purgatory and to Heaven. It represents allegorically the soul's journey towards God. “With Purgatory’s closing chorus of voices singing the Magnificat in anticipation of the joys of Paradise to come….. Besides containing some of Liszt’s finest material, the Dante Symphony is beautifully designed and proportioned……” (Malcolm Hayes). Winkball citizen video reporters asked the promenaders how moving their experience had been.

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