Friday, July 06, 2012

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

6 July 2012

Tchaikovsky’s ‘Manfred Symphony’ is a big, heavy, long and loud piece of music. Its length and the technical challenges it presents mean it is rarely performed. I hadn’t heard it before we started rehearsing it for our latest Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert. The Manfred Symphony feels quite different from Tchaikovsky’s other symphonies. It’s a programmatic piece, based on Byron’s epic dramatic poem. At times it sounds almost like a Mahler symphony. The big tunes are stirring and dramatic and I enjoyed tackling the recurring horn call solos. I suspect the Manfred Symphony might have been more fun to play than it was for our audience to listen to but I think we gave a very presentable account of it at the concert. The rest of our programme included another infrequently played work by a well-known composer – the overture ‘In Nature’s Realm’ by Dvořák. This is a gentle, pastoral piece which contains plenty of echoes of other Dvořák compositions (including the New World Symphony) and seems to suggest the influence of Mendelssohn. The concert also featured Mozart’s wonderful ‘Clarinet Concerto’, impressively played by John Sharp. The slow movement in particular is achingly beautiful.

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