Archive for October, 2016

Review of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Alexander Shelley with violin soloist Carolin Widmann at Cambridge Corn Exchange on Saturday 28th October 2016

October 29, 2016

After a fascinating talk by James Williams, Managing Director of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the orchestra gave a splendid concert in Cambridge Corn Exchange on Saturday.  Conducted by Alexander Shelley, these highly talented musicians performed with rich, expressive precision while never missing an opportunity to bring out the most subtle nuances and dramatic intensity of the pieces.

The concert opened with Rossini’s ‘William Tell Overture”.  It is only when you hear an orchestra of this calibre play this very popular work live that you realize the work’s full musical potential. With pinpointed intonation and timing, incredible speed and smoothness of articulation these instrumentalists gave this composition new life so that we could easily forget the hackneyed versions we have all heard before

Then the violin soloist, Carolin Widmann, entered the stage to perform Mendelssohn’s ‘Violin Concerto’. Her breathtaking performance wowed the audience. With real virtuosic flair, sonorous depth and an affinity with the poignant beauty of the themes, she worked sensitively with the orchestra to create meaningful dialogues, while constantly maintaining a sense of excitement and pathos. It was no surprise that as she ended the piece she was met with rapturous applause and time and time again she was called back to the stage for more. Her Bach encore was a delight.

The final piece for the concert was the second symphony by Sibelius. After an interesting account of the background to this piece by the conductor, again this orchestra performed superbly. The conductor and the instrumentalists revelled in the music, exploring perfectly the constant flow of musical ideas, carving delightful moments of contrast, or sudden changes of mood and unexpected harmonies.

This was indeed a splendid first concert for this season for the Cambridge Classical Concert Series. It is no wonder that this orchestra’s next concert in the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Saturday 21st January 2017 featuring the music if John Williams is already sold out! You should book early for their performance on 17th June next year. contact: 02076088800

photo copyright: Lennard Ruehle (published with permission from Cambridge Live)rpo-photo-28th-oct-2016




Review of the concert given by Ely Sinfonia and Martin Roscoe concert in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 22nd October 2016 (photos featuring Steve Bingham Martin Roscoe and members of the audience Dr Arthur and Colin Wills)

October 23, 2016

review-gershwin-16-arthur-and-colin-wills-yreview-gershwin-16-steve-bingham-yEly Sinfonia members, under the directorship of Steve Bingham, were excellent on Saturday when they performed works by Bernstein, Gershwin and Aaron Copland in Ely Cathedral. They handled the tricky rhythms, rapid runs and sonorous harmonies with real aplomb. This orchestra has certainly come on a long way since it first started.

The star solo performer of the night was Martin Roscoe, a highly accomplished and experienced musician. He played Gershwin’s ‘Piano Concerto in F’ with calm assurance, using an amazing variety of touch and virtuosic technique that made the piece sparkle. He gave the impression of playing in three-dimensions, sharp melodic phrases being brought out clearly with other subsidiary phrases shaped carefully underneath.  He had that special quality that only first class pianists have; he pulled back almost imperceptivity with Gershwin’s emotional passages so that every nuance of feeling was explored. When Martin said at interval that he enjoyed his visit to Ely Cathedral, I am sure we certainly enjoyed having him come and considering his wealth of knowledge of piano concertos it is to be hoped he comes again.

Of the purely orchestral pieces for the evening, Aaron Copland’s ‘Quiet City’ appealed to me most. This mostly quiet composition was performed very well, conveying exquisitely a serenity that created a magical atmosphere, stirring the imagination wonderfully.

Bernstein’s ‘Overture to Candide’ was colourful and expressive with the changes in dynamics brought out particularly well. In Aaron Copland’s ‘Appalachian Spring’, the performers gave a highly skilful and entertaining performance giving us fitting snippets of America that ended the evening perfectly. It was heartening to hear the well known tune ‘Simple Gifts’ included. (This tune is known to us as ‘The Lord of the Dance’.)

It was indeed a splendid evening. Ely Sinfonia’s next major event will be ‘Symphonie Metamorphosis’ with works by Hindemith, Ravel and Franck on 6 May 2017 in Ely Cathedral.


Review of Chatteris Music Society’s concert: the Budapest Café Orchestra in the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul Chatteris on Saturday 8th October 2016

October 9, 2016

review-budapest-orch-chris-garrickreview-budapest-orch-kelly-cantlonreview-budapest-orch-adrian-zolotuhin-and-eddie-hessionThere is a very good reason why Chatteris Music Society is becoming more and more successful: it is providing fantastic concerts. The Budapest Café Orchestra that performed on Saturday was amazing. It is like no other group I have ever heard. Imagine trying to play Grieg’s Piano Concerto with a violin, a guitar, a piano accordion and a double bass – impossible, you would imagine. However, armed with these interesting instruments, these highly talented musicians managed it with phenomenal flair, albeit performing their own unique arrangement. Their virtuosic skill, hilarious sense of humour and undoubted sensitivity and rhythmic genius kept the packed audience spellbound.

The ‘orchestra’ consists of Chris Garrick (playing violin and doumbek: a type of drum), Kelly Cantlon (double bass), Adrian Zolotuhin (saz, guitar and balalaika) and Eddie Hession (button accordion).

The leader, Chris Garrick, inspired this group of eccentric UK dwellers parading as mysterious Hungarian- come-Russian characters to play with tremendous agility, feeling and expert timing, infusing their arrangements with mischievousness that had the audience laughing out loud. While wondering if strains of Brahm’s Hungarian pieces were being infiltrated into their vivacious arrangements of known folk music, we would be suddenly met with oh-so-familiar themes from the likes of James Bond, the Archers, the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, The Onedin Line, Captain Pugwash, Born Free, Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’, ‘Poldark’ or ‘Apache’. Nothing was sacrosanct. Only performers of such astounding ability as these musicians can get away with such outrageous fun so successfully.

Highlights for me were their version of the Greek ‘Misirlou’ with Adrian Zolotuhin on a Turkish stringed instrument: the saz, the almost unbelievable antics in ‘Grieg’s Squeezebox Concerto’, the melancholy of the Scottish folk-song ‘The Boatman’ and Mahler’s ‘Adagietto’.

Although they find it hard to believe that after hearing their fantastic vivacious breakneck arrangements anyone would really enjoy something slow and haunting, I did. The most moving piece for me was Mahler’s ‘Adagietto’ a slow, haunting and very moving testament to the composer.

This was an amazing evening: a fitting tribute to Roger Heading a previous chairman of Chatteris Music Society.

The next Chatteris Music Society concert will be on Saturday March 11th featuring The Falcon Ensemble playing Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto and Mendelssohn’s ‘Italian Symphony’.