Monday, October 14, 2019

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

14 October 2019

On Saturday I was at St Matthews Church in Northampton for the first concert in the Northampton Symphony Orchestra’s 126th concert season. This concert was part of the 14th Malcolm Arnold Festival and we played three pieces by the Northampton-born composer. The ‘Peterloo Overture’ featured brilliant playing by our percussion section, evoking the violent events at St Peter’s Fields, Manchester on 16 August 1819. Arnold’s ‘Variations on a Theme of Ruth Gipps’ is a rarely performed work that pays tribute to his friend and contemporary – a prolific composer and celebrated conductor who deserves greater recognition. Stolen Face is a 1952 Hammer horror film directed by Terence Fisher for which Malcolm Arnold wrote the music. Philip Lane’s transcription of the score is a mini piano concerto which we performed with Rhythmie Wong – an award-winning pianist from Hong Kong. Rhythmie also joined us to play the ‘Piano Concerto No 2’ by Rachmaninov. Such a well-known virtuosic work is a real challenge for soloist and orchestra but Rhythmie Wong’s performance was flawless and the orchestral accompaniment was impressive – with a particularly beautiful clarinet solo in the slow movement by Naomi Muller. It’s an incredibly emotional piece of music which always moves me to tears ("Oh, no, please, it's only something in my eye"). We finished the concert with another powerfully romantic piece, Tchaikovsky’s ‘Fantasy Overture: Romeo and Juliet' which cleverly portrays the key elements of the story of the star-crossed lovers. It was a lovely concert which played to a packed and enthusiastic audience.

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