Chandos Reviews

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Audiences are notoriously conservative, so it was clever ot the Chandos Symphony Orchestra to entice the audience to its concert in the New Space with well-known works by Mendelssohn and Sibelius, anil then to surprise and delight us with two relatively unknown pieces.

The first, the Konzertstuck, by Schumann, for four horns (in effect a concerto) was inspired by the invention, in the 1830s, of the valve horn. Schumann was excited by the possibilities opened up to horn players and the result is a virtuoso romp for the four horns, particularly enjoyable in the boisterous outer mouvements. Nicky Daw and her fellow Horn Belles handled the solo parts with polish and verve.

It was refreshing to include the work of a living composer, the Estonian Arvo Pärt. His Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten of 1984 was quite stunning. Slowly cascading upper strings over sustained harmonies created a searing emotional tension as the music built up inexorably to its final resolution. This was a deeply felt and committed performance, finely controlled by the conductor, Michael Lloyd. It was good to have the chance to hear exciting new music performed so well, and in such a fine acoustic that we have now at the Theatres.

Of the remaining works, Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture wns noticable particularly for the fine playing of the woodwind soloists. The strings were a little tentative at first and lacked lustre.

The Sibelius Fifth Symphony, however, showed all sections of the orchestra at their consider- able best; the strong tone rich and assured with the difficult passage work well executed, the woodwind excellent, as ever, the brass impeccable. From the chill atmosphere at the opening, through the swirls of northern mists to the final incandescent climax, the orchestra clearly enjoyed the challenge of this demanding but rewarding music.

Penny Vere