Negative reviews of The Flight of Icarus


‘Works by two Russians and a Lancastrian made up the programme of the second Proms concert, given on Wednesday by the BBC National Orchestra conducted by Mark Wigglesworth. Whether it was the heat in the hall or the distraction of the TV cameras, this was a concert distinctly under par. The Flight of Icarus by Burnley-born John Pickard, receiving its London premiere, is not a work new to the orchestra. Indeed it was commissioned by the orchestra and first played in January 1991. Since then the NOW has played it seven times, rather remarkable for a new work. And it showed. Unlike the rest of the programme, this piece seemed to have got firmly under the grip of the orchestra. The Flight of Icarus is a celebration of space travel coupled with the idea “that human endeavour inevitably generates catastrophe”, as Pickard puts it in his programme note. Lasting 20 minutes and scored for a huge orchestra, it apes the tone poems of Strauss and the symphonies of Robert Simpson (for whom the composer has a particular affection) without, alas, the discipline of thought.’

Annette Morreau
The Independent, 2 August 1996


John Pickard’s The Fall of Icarus [sic] had its London premiere. It’s a pièce de résistance of the Welsh orchestra; this was its ninth performance since its 1991 premiere. I’d like to say nice things about the work, but – after the adventures of Carter, Goldschmidt, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, engaging mind and heart – heard little more than an ambitious, effective, but musically conventional tone-poem by someone who knows how to score. It’s tempting to put Icarus into the effective, easy-appeal box.

Andrew Porter
The Observer, 4 August 1996