Friday, February 25, 2011

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

25 February 2011

Most amateur orchestras rehearse for months to prepare for a single performance. The logistics of bringing together (in the case of the Northampton Symphony Orchestra) 84 performers plus conductor and soloist make repeat performances impractical. Yet it is disappointingly rare that the concert performance proves to be the best the orchestra has played the works in question. All too often the combination of nerves, the need for prolonged intense concentration and either lack of familiarity or over-familiarity with the music leaves us feeling that the concert wasn’t quite as good as the standard we had achieved in rehearsal. But last Saturday’s Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert definitely bucked this trend with our performance, in particular, of ‘Harold in Italy’, Berlioz’s Symphony in Four Parts with Viola Obbligato, more delicate, more playful, more perfect than it had ever been in rehearsal. Former NSO member Becci Dyson played the solo viola part beautifully. ‘Harold in Italy’ is a jigsaw that requires every part to be in exactly in the right place. The tune flits rapidly between soloist and orchestra and between instruments within the orchestra. I think this is why it seemed to take us a while to get the point of the work in rehearsal: only when everything falls into place does the picture become clear and the piece really grew on me as we got closer to the concert. The rest of the concert continued the theme of works about Italy by non-Italian composers (and a sub-theme of viola solos!) with Elgar’s ‘In The South (Alassio)’ – a wonderfully Straussian piece – and ‘Capriccio Italien’ by Tchaikovsky, the end of which was definitely faster in performance than we had ever played it in rehearsal! It was an ambitious programme but the orchestra rose to the occasion and gave one of its best concerts for some time.

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