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Sakari Oramo’s Prom of English music with the BBC Symphony Orchestra opened with the overdue UK premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Time Flies. A co-commission by the BBC, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie, it was written in 2019 as a celebratory piece for the Tokyo Olympics the following year, though its planned multiple premieres were all initially shelved due to Covid and subsequent travel restrictions. The first performance finally took place in Hamburg last year. Tokyo, for which the world premiere was originally intended, has still yet to hear it.
A large-scale piece lasting 25 minutes or so, it’s essentially a depiction of the three cities that commissioned it: structurally it flanks a slow central movement (Hamburg) with two contrasting allegros (London, Tokyo), each effectively dictated by its own pulse and individual time pattern. London is all about rhythmic disorientation as Turnage rings syncopated changes on a horn phrase that suggests a peal of church bells, though a lyrical soprano saxophone solo over undulating strings at the movement’s centre suggests the calm, steady flow of the Thames through the at times gleeful surrounding chaos.
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Olympic Tokyo, meanwhile, is even faster, more frenetic, harder edged – a city in a party mood, its jazzy edginess and ritzy percussive chatter never letting up. In Hamburg, by contrast, the pressures of time are less. Harmonies progress more gently, as fanfares reminiscent of Copland alternate with complex but luminous woodwind and string passages, often of remarkable beauty. The virtuosity of Turnage’s scoring was matched throughout by the precision and brilliance of the BBCSO’s playing.
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Its companion pieces were Vaughan Williams’s Tuba Concerto and Elgar’s First Symphony. Constantin Hartwig, tall, lanky and debonair, was the witty, if wonderfully refined soloist in the concerto and offered an arrangement of Paul McCartney’s Blackbird as an encore while outside the hot weather began to break and rain drummed loudly on the Albert Hall roof. Oramo, meanwhile, has long been an exceptional Elgar interpreter, and his performance of the First was by turns noble and volatile, deeply touching in the heartfelt adagio, and genuinely exultant at the end. Extremely fine.
Michelle Obama leads tributes to Serena Williams after US open exit .
A host of A-list celebrities filled the Arthur Ashe stands but the celebrities not only flooded to Flushing Meadows to show their support of the tennis great but many also took to social media to pay tribute. From legends like Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter, to fellow tennis players such as Ons Jabeur and Carlos Alcaraz to NBA and WNBA stars like Breanna Stewart, JR Smith, Isaiah Thomas, and Diamond DeShields, Williams drew the admiration and attention of all. Michelle Obama posted a video of Williams interacting with the Arthur Ash crowd following her defeat.