...it drove the audience wild... Ivan Hewett (The Telegraph)

Critics have responded effusively to new works from Faber Music composers at this summer’s BBC Proms festival in London.  Danny Elfman’s Wunderkammer, a 3-movement orchestral showpiece premiered by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain under Andrew Gourlay, “lived up to its name” (The Arts Desk). The review continued,  

Elfman made the most of his massed ranks, with the female players supplying an eerie vocalise line on top of their instrumental contributions, and bravura work from the formidable squadron of percussion. Like any spooky movie spell-binder, Elfman loves the celeste. That made its mark here, with glockenspiel, chimes, growling brass and pizzicato strings – and a battery of harps – adding to the almost-comic house-of-horror vibe… both cooks and diners relished every cleverly-spiced mouthful.

Colin Anderson called the 23-minute piece “colourful and suggestive”. Wunderkammer, he continued, is “a concert score that is descriptive of whatever comes to mind and is strong enough to be appreciated as music for music’s sake – and also including a vocal element – full of virtuoso writing, played brilliantly, with a reflective, rather sad middle section before the carnival of the conclusion, with again lots of activity, variegation, and plenty of technical challenges, which were met head-on and victory seized.”

The BBC Proms first-ever concert of music from video games (Prom 21, 1 August) attracted considerable critical interest, with Jessica Curry’s music from games Dear Esther and So Let Us Melt concluding the concert, which was televised on BBC 4 on 5 August. Writing in the Telegraph, Ivan Hewett described the climax of the concert:

Finally it was back to grandeur, for the score to the 2012 game Dear Esther. Just two lush major chords, rocking back and forth, with a big melody over the top; it could hardly have been simpler. Like gaming itself, it delivered the kind of massive sugar rush that stills all criticism, and it drove the audience wild.

Bachtrack described Curry’s music as “haunting” (Roy Westbrook), noting that “it made an ideal close to this first – but surely not the last – gaming Prom.” In the Observer Miranda Sawyer also praised Jessica Curry’s “spacey score”. Robert Ames conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Looking ahead, on 26 August Pekka Kuusisto gives the UK premiere of Thomas Adès’ 2021 work for violin and orchestra Märchentänze, with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Collon. On 6 September the Royal Scottish National Orchestra open their concert with the ‘Three-Piece Suite’ from Powder Her Face, a 12-minute showcase of music from Adès’ 1995 operatic debut, conducted by Thomas Søndergård. Composer and arranger Simon Parkin will feature twice in the Last Night of the Proms celebrations with two arrangements for cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. He performs a version of Deep River by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Karl Davydov’s At the Fountain.