Thursday, July 24, 2014

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

24 July 2014

The Northampton Symphony Orchestra Friends' Concert, each July, always feels like an 'end of term' party. This year it was also our final concert with conductor Alexander Walker. Alex has been conducting NSO since 2009 and, looking back over the past five years, he has been presided over some stunning concerts and I think he has helped to create a marked improvement in our playing. Alex has been a reassuring presence during concerts, often steering us calmly to safety when a wrong entry threatened to derail our performance. And I think we have learned a lot from his particular knowledge of, and passion for, Russian music. My personal highlights from Alex's tenure as our regular conductor include the incredible experience of playing Mahler's 'Symphony No. 6' (reviewed here in November 2011), a stunning performance of Richard Strauss’ ‘Four Last Songs’ with Katherine Crompton (featuring an exquisite horn solo in ‘September’ by David Lack) (reviewed here in November 2010), Shostakovich's immense ‘Leningrad Symphony’ (reviewed here in November 2013) and our 'Love and Death' concert earlier this year (reviewed here in February 2014) which included the Richard Strauss tone poem 'Tod und Verklärung' ('Death and Transfiguration'). Alex's final NSO programme, last Sunday, included Dvorak's tone poem 'The Water Goblin' (a lovely piece), the 'Danse Macabre' by Saint-Saens and Rimsky Korsakov's rousing 'Capriccio Espagnole'. But I most enjoyed playing Wagner's 'Siegfried Idyll' – an achingly beautiful expression of love.

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