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An imposing start

First Night of the BBC Proms
in London on 18 July 2003


So the world's greatest music festival is underway once again. One of the ongoing themes this year is music inspired by the Greek Myths. No evidence of that on the opening night, though a packed Royal Albert Hall on a hot day had many of us wondering if the air conditioning, alleged to have been introduced last year, was just another of those myths!

The Bill of Fare? A rich Russian salad. To start, Shostakovich's Festive Overture, a harmless few yards of bespoke Soviet jollity, written on demand to remind the fifties proletariat just what fun it was to live in Mother Russia. It came and went with suitably optimistic fizz and Panache, and, from me, a silent prayer of thanks at the welcome absence of the choral banality that usually attends such pieces d'occasion. After all, we were force-fed the dreadful Second Symphony last year. Maestro Slatkin and his BBC Symphony Orchestra fell to their work with a will.

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Copyright © 29 July 2003 David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK


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