Thursday, March 21, 2013

Milton Keynes Sinfonia concert

21 March 2013

The viola is the often the poor relation amongst orchestral instruments, the butt of many jokes, the unglamorous middle of the string section. So it was interesting, last Saturday, to take part in a concert that positively celebrated the musical possibilities of the viola. I was playing with Milton Keynes Sinfonia in a programme which began and ended with fine viola solos by the orchestra’s principal viola player, Julian Pentz, in Elgar’s ‘In The South’ and Vaughan Williams’ ‘Symphony No 2 (A London Symphony)’. The filling in this viola sandwich was William Walton’s ‘Viola Concerto’ – a wonderful but fiendishly difficult work, impressively performed by Emma Sheppard (who was, until last year, the principal viola for English National Ballet). It was a lovely programme and a very enjoyable concert, with some great playing throughout the orchestra and a host of exquisite solos by a variety of players – but this time the limelight belonged to the viola.

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