MUSIC / Pick of the Proms

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The Independent Culture
WITH nothing from Glyndebourne, not much in the way of foreign orchestras and only two world premieres (from John Buller and Nicholas Sackman), this year's Proms have a retractive feel to them - as though (could it be?) the BBC were holding its fire for the Proms centenary in 1995. But period- performance enthusiasts are well provided for, as are lovers of youth - no less than five youth orchestras are appearing, which should please the BBC accountants. And despite the paucity of commissions, there are some major new-ish works playing in Britain or London for the first time. Choosing a Top 10 from the total of 67 events is of course a matter of taste, but this would be mine:

ELEKTRA

An abrasive start to the season, with Andrew Davis conducting the BBC SO and a high-stamina cast in the opera that stretched vocal technique to the limits of its time. Marilyn Zschau should size up to the formidable title role; Eva Randova and Willard White support. Fri 16 July.

DEBORAH

One of Handel's earliest English oratorios, influential in the 18th century but little known today - which makes this performance with period forces conducted by Robert King a rare outing. Sun 1 Aug.

ROBERT SAXTON'S VIOLA CONCERTO

Substantial score - heard at the Cheltenham Festival seven years ago but never yet in London - that launched the series of concerto- format works which have dominated Saxton's output. Fri 6 Aug.

GUSTAV MAHLER YOUTH ORCHESTRA

The prestigious Eastern European equivalent to the ECYO, under its founder-conductor Claudio Abbado, plays Bruckner and Mussorgsky. Mon 9 Aug.

PETER MAXWELL DAVIES

PMD conducts the BBC Philharmonic, one of the orchestras with which he has a particularly productive relationship, in his own, epic 2nd Symphony. Fri 13 Aug.

ELGAR'S THE MUSIC MAKERS

The very English climax of a very English programme that wafts meaningfully through Delius's Sea Drift and the once-popular Piano Concerto by John Ireland. Sun 22 Aug.

OSLO PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

The first of two concerts under Mariss Jansons (see left), opening with Schnittke's intriguingly titled (K)ein Sommernachtstraum - a warning to the audience not to expect this Mendelssohnian-sounding rondo to sound like Mendelssohn at all. Mon 23 Aug.

LUTOSLAWSKI'S 4TH SYMPHONY

Eighty this year but still writing and (as here) conducting, Poland's leading composer introduces Britain to the symphony he completed for the Los Angeles Phil last year. Fri 27 Aug.

GUNTER WAND

The veteran with a unique authority in Austro- German romantic repertoire directs the BBC SO in Schumann and Brahms. Sat 4 Sept.

HENZE'S REQUIEM

At last, the British unveiling of a work which has been glimpsed 'in progress' at London Sinfonietta concerts during the past few years and promises far to be a landmark in the composer's later writing. Sun 5 Sept. MW

All concerts are at the Royal Albert Hall, SW7. Box-office: 071-589 8212.

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