1 AUGUST 1952, Page 12


Tun programmes of this year's Promenade Concerts contain no absolutely new works, no first performances. Instead there are sixteen works which have never been played at a Prom. and are for the most part recent works which the audience will be hearing for the first time. Eleven of these are by British composers, and the rest are by foreigners already known in this country by other works. There is a high percentage of concertos, and this is natural in a series of popular concerts, for the concerto is a dramatic and therefore immediately attractive form.

Many will be hearing Rawsthorne's, second piano concerto (September 3rd) for the first time, and Britten's violin concerto (August 11th), though by no means new, has not won a place in the ordinary concert repertory. Howard Ferguson's piano concerto (September 18th) was highly praised after its first performance earlier this year, and the concert at which Dame Myra Hess plays this and the Schumann concerto will certainly be a gala night. Racine Fricker's violin concerto (August 29th) and Gordon Jacobs horn concerto (September 8th) will appeal to different tastes, but both eminently deserve their inclusion ; and it will be safe to- say that Dennis Brain's playing of Jacob's deft, well-shaped and eupeptic music will delight even those whose general taste is rather for Fricker's more difficult and more fashionable music. Doreen Carwithen, whose piano concerto is being given on August 25th, is probably an unfamiliar name ; I have only heard chamber music of hers, which certainly made a good impression. Violin concertos by Piston (July 30th) and Nielsen (September 5th) and a two-piano concerto by Martinu (August 14th) are certainly worth hearing ; but I am less attracted by the second piano concerto of Dolmanyi, a composer. who hardly wins a place among the novelties.

Those who look at the Prom. programmes with a jealous eye for the interests of our own composers will rejoice at the generosity with which Vaughan Williams is treated this year—ail six symphonies, the Tanis fantasia, Tudor Portraits and the Serenade to Music ; and will approve of Walton's symphony and two concertos. They may at the same time observe that Berkeley, Rubbra and Tippett are not represented. Russian composers are perhaps natural Promenaders, in that their music generally has a strong, immediate .emotional appeal and is highly and attractivelYeoloured. But does Rachmaninov earn the royal treatment he has received this year—aff four works for piano and orchestra and the third symphony as well ? And Shostakovich's first and Prokofiev's " classical " are surely due for a rest, if for nothing more drastic. Stravinsky's Psalm Symphony (August 26th) is an excellent choice, apparently not new to Prom. audiences, but a work which benefits from closer acquaintance more than many of Stravinsky 's later pieces.

I should like to make a plea for a more generous treatment of Berlioz. The Fantastique, Royal Hunt and three not very typical extracts from The Damnation of Faust give an inadequate idea of his grandeur and range ; and, since choral works of the size of Eiger 's Music-Makers find a place in these concerts, it would surely be possible to include at least part of Rom& et Juliette. Since concertos figure so largely, Harold in Italy might also become a regular feature of the Proms. It is an extraordinary fact, too, that with the single exception of Strauss's oboe concerto there is no German work later than Till Eulenspiegel, written before the death of Brahms. That Germany has indeed lost her musical hegemony of Europe is a well- established fact, but has she abdicated quite to the extent this would