It’s Week 6 at the BBC Proms and passport control is in overdrive with visiting orchestras! This week sees the Iceland Symphony and the Seoul Philharmonic make their Proms debuts, which should generate much excitement. As well as Schumann and Beethoven, the Iceland Symphony brings some home-grown ‘fire and ice’ in the form of Jon Leifs’ Geysir and Haukur Tómasson’s Magma, both inspired by their country’s geology.

Strokkur geyser in Iceland
Strokkur geyser in Iceland

The Seoul Philharmonic also brings local colour in the form of Unsuk Chin’s concerto for sheng (a reed mouth organ) entitled Šu. Myung-Whun Chung balances his programme out with Debussy’s seascape La mer (mostly composed in the rather unexotic Eastbourne) and Tchaikovsky’s heart-on-sleeve “Pathetique” Symphony. It will be interesting to see what tactic Chung employs to stave off the inevitable applause after the triumphant third movement scherzo…

Yet it’s not just new visiting orchestras making headlines this week. Turn to the Czech Philharmonic and the Budapest Festival Orchestras and you’ll discover two of the greatest orchestras in Europe bar none. Ivan Fischer brings his Budapest team for not one, but two fantastic looking concerts. Two Brahms symphonies (nos. 3 and 4) would be the connoisseur’s Pick of the Week, but they also play a Bank Holiday prom which is lighter in fare, with plenty of shorter pieces, in the midst of which nestles Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony. The Czech Philharmonic, under chief conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, offers Beethoven’s exhilarating Seventh Symphony as well as offering authentic support to Alisa Weilerstein in Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, probably the finest cello concerto in the canon (editor ducks from irate Elgar supporters!).

Budapest Festival Orchestra © Budapest Festival Orchestra
Budapest Festival Orchestra
© Budapest Festival Orchestra

Some lovely storytelling through music is in prospect in Saturday’s prom, although the title “Russian fairy tales” is somewhat misleading. Ravel’s Mother Goose and Szymanowski’s Songs of a Fairytale Princess open a delicious programme which closes with the mother of all storytellers, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Sakari Oramo conducts (having orchestrated three extra songs to the Szymanowski).

If two Brahms symphonies aren’t enough for you on Tuesday evening, why not stay for a late night prom performance of Beethoven’s massive Missa solemnis? A cracking solo quartet – Lucy Crowe, Jennifer Johnston, Michael Spyres and Matthew Rose – is on hand to join the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Worth staying out late for.

A Place in the Universe
A Place in the Universe

In comparison with these, the London Philharmonic’s prom on Thursday might look like something of a Cinderella. The Planets is a trusty old warhorse with over 80 appearances at the proms (Too many? Offer us some different Holst, please). Schoenberg’s Five Orchestral Pieces and Scriabin’s Prometheus, Poem of Fire complete the programme. So what’s so remarkable about it? Out of all the Proms this season, this concert was the one most Bachtrack reviewers requested to cover. Let’s see if it lives up to their expectations!