Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

24 April 2018

There seems to be an increasing trend for football players missing games because they get injured in the warm-up but this sort of thing is still thankfully rare amongst orchestral musicians. So it was a shock when the start of our Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert last Saturday was delayed after one of our oboe players was stung on the lip by a wasp while the orchestra was tuning-up. Sadly she was unable to play in the concert – as was our principal ‘cellist who had been taken ill a few days before. Nevertheless, the orchestra managed a fine performance of a challenging programme with Philip Luck’s ‘cello solos proving a particularly impressive highlight. Continuing our season of music inspired by the visual arts, for this concert NSO conductor John Gibbons had selected a series of pieces evoking the sea. ‘The Garden of Fand’ by Arnold Bax is based on an Irish mythical figure, Fand, the daughter of the Lord of the Ocean. It is an ethereal piece underpinned by the constant swelling of the waves. Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic poem ‘Sadko’ also draws inspiration from legend, being based on an epic Russian poem in which the hero Sadko is transported to the realm of the Sea King. The best known piece in the programme was ‘La Mer’ by Claude Debussy – a three-movement impressionist picture of the sea that requires a mixture of concentration, delicacy and power from the orchestra. There was fine playing from all sections of the NSO, particularly the woodwind and Nick Bunker’s excellent trumpet solos. But the highlight of the concert was undoubtedly Richard Peaslee’s trombone concerto ‘Arrows of Time’, magnificently played by Carol Jarvis. ‘Arrows of Time’ is an accessibly tuneful modern piece with playful syncopated rhythms. Carol Jarvis gave a virtuoso performance, demonstrating an amazing dexterity in the fast passages and a beautiful tone in the slow movement.

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