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Prom 43: Flos Campi

August 20, 2008

Sunday evening’s concert seems a world away now. To be writing about it the City of London Sinfonia’s gig the Wednesday after it occurred feels positively evil.

I’ve got out of sync, you see. The Proms season consumes everything. But let something like a video shoot or a couple of parties get in the way and see the tight schedule slip spectacularly. The order I’ve listened to recent Prom concerts has been out of whack and so too the contents of those concerts too.

I tried listening to the Nigel Osborne flute concerto first and found found myself feeling angry at first. This feeling was quickly supplanted by a feeling of embarrassment after I communicated my two-word opinion to a good friend of mine who, it turns out, actually quite likes Nigel Osborne on account of the Professor – Student releationship my friend had with his 60 year old composer-tutor. Thank God Osborne wasn’t a member of my friend’s family. It could have been a whole lot worse.

The Mozart symphony at the beginning of the concert.. well, that was just a symphony and it was Mozart and, well, what’s there to say about Mozart symphonies exactly?

The real surprise of the evening was the bizarrely named and supposedly “erotic” Flos Campi by Vaughan Williams. Introduced and scored as a concertino featuring solo viola, orchestra and voices, this was bound to pique my interest given that the chorus contribution consisted of “worldess voices”.

There was something ethereal about this work, with barren sounds combined with moments of unmistakable Vaughan Williams. There was somethign fresh about the unusual textures created by the open string viola combined with voices singing no consonants.

Whilst the text of the multi-movement work may have been erotic and there might have been moments of unexpected beauty about the piece, I remain unconvinced about whether it can be necessarily erotic in itself. Vaughan Williams may well ahve been quite shrewd when he subsequently distanced the work from the description ascribed to it by contemporaries.

As for the Beethoven Mass in C .. sometimes I find Beethoven so incredibly dull and boring.

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