Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

16 July 2019

On Sunday I played in the Northampton Symphony Orchestra’s annual Friends’ Concert, bringing to an end our 125th anniversary concert season. This end of season party is an exclusive concert for the Friends of the Orchestra who have supported NSO over the past year. It gives the orchestra the chance to play a variety of shorter pieces that wouldn’t fit into a standard concert programme, and finishes with a buffet for the Friends and the orchestra. This year our conductor, John Gibbons, programmed two English folk songs delightfully arranged for strings by Frank Bridge (‘Sally in Our Alley’ and ‘Cherry Ripe’) followed by the ‘Capriol Suite’ by Peter Warlock, not in the original version for string orchestra but alternating between two arrangements for brass and woodwind. The main focus of the concert was a performance of the two suites from Edvard Grieg’s incidental music to ‘Peer Gynt’, which we played in the order they appear in Ibsen’s play so that John could give the audience his personal interpretation of the story of Peer Gynt (a play he admitted he has never seen!) between the movements. It is a bonkers story – worth watching this excellent Classics Explained YouTube video if you aren’t familiar with it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBgPqhBUE2o The orchestra played beautifully, with woodwind impressing in ‘Morning’, strings showing precision in the chromatic challenges of ‘Anitra’s Dance’ and brass powering us through ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. But the stars of the show were the tuba and trombone players joining the percussion section for the ‘Arabian Dance’! We finished the concert with the third movement of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Symphony No 6 (Pathétique)’ - that famous glorious march that is usually punctured by the angst of the symphony’s final movement, but here was allowed to remain as a triumphant finale to our concert and our anniversary season.

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