Chandos Reviews

We try and keep a list of reviews of our concerts. We rely on people sending us the review so if you have one that is not listed here please contact us. All the reviews are copyright the original listed publication. To see the concert that the review refered to, click on the date.


A beautifully chosen programme, some outstanding orchestral playing diffused through with considerable sensitivity, and a fine soloist combined to make this perhaps the best of the Chandos' concerts I have ever heard.

A spirited delivery of Walton's Overture: Portsmouth Point, spiky rhythms alongside fine unison strings and a super tuba, opened the evening.

It continued with a breathtaking interpretation of Britten's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by soloist Lorraine McAslan. She really understood this tragic. elegiac music and as she surmounted technical demands and dug deep into dark shadowy emotions, the Chandos met her challenge.

A solo timpani rhythmic beat pursued by the lyrical high flying violinist set the mood for the first movement.

In the second, Lorraine danced, the orchestra integrated with full-blooded involvement, woodwind adding decoration to the soloist, prefacing her cadenza of brilliance — harmonics flying off, double stopping, lyricism and so much more.

Trombones made an entry as they pronounced the theme of the closing Passacaglia. A tortuous ending came as orchestra and soloist rose in lamentation.

Noble, majestic music of Elgar's Symphony No.l was given a beautiful legato and expressive beginning, and through the Adagio, Michael Lloyd (conductor) drew a most lovely ebb and flow of sweeping melody, passionate and poetic.

Finally, with the return of the original theme, soaring strings, harps and horns added intensity to the full orchestra. This concert was the Chandos on top form and it deserved a larger audience.

Jill Hopkins

Still developing as an instrument, the marimba can easily be viewed as a vehicle merely for spectacular virtuosity.

And brilliant technique was certainly in evidence on Sunday, when the diminutive Yin-Shan Hsieh showed fascinating command of this bigger, mellower relative of the xylophone in Keiko Abe's Prism Rhapsody. Winner of the Chandos Young Musician 2006 prize, Yin-Shan is a student of Birmingham Conservatoire, and indeed two of her fellow Conservatoire percussionists were playing in the Chandos Symphony Orchestra accompanying her.

There were some striking visual images, such as the spider's web-like patterns woven in the air by three mallets gripped in each hand, and hypnotic single-mallet bravura rippling across the rosewood bars.

But there were also great reserves of musicality in evidence: subtle nuances between the hands, an almost sexy shaping of phrases, and a magical interlude of nocturnal sounds exchanged between soloist and the enthusiastically supportive orchestra.

A Rachmaninov-like cadenza near the end prepared us for that composer's rewarding Third Symphony, the orchestra here responding with great flexibility to conductor Michael Lloyd's natural rubato whilst preserving an underlying strong rhythmic pulse.

Delicate woodwind touches underlined the often pointillistic nature of the score, which broods with a Hollywood-style sense of drama and also breathes some surprisingly Elgarian elements — perhaps not so surprising when you remember that Rachmaninov once played his own Third Piano Concerto in a programme which also included the Enigma Variations (and Mahler, no less, was the conductor).

Elgar himself was represented by his splendid In the South Overture, the Chandos strings needing to pay more attention to tuning in big unisons, the bassoons adding some perceptive detail, and twittering stewards disturbing our concentration by admitting latecomers.

Christopher Morley (by permission)

Chandos' opening concert of the season, with Michael Lloyd conducting and Kathryn Rutland leading, gave us the chance to hear Yin-Shan Hseih (marimba), winner of Chandos Young Musician 2006.

The performance was of Prism Rhapsody for Marimba and Orchestra by Abe.

After a flamboyant orchestral beginning, the soloist embraced a more celestial mood of multifaceted sounds as she extracted watery 'rippling effects, danced in syncopation with the orchestra or imitated percussive drums.

Yin-Shah is a delightful performer to watch. Her virtuoso cadenzas were impressive and her range and depth of sound exciting. The Chandos captured the style of music but was frequently too loud .

Elgar's concert overture In the South launched the Chandos joyfully, the celebratory brass excelling strings exuding warmth and beauty, woodwind colourful.

However, when playing tutti it all became too strident and noisy. The viola solo and harps were a welcome respite.

The orchestra brought most wonderful melodic lines to life in Symphony No 3 in A minor by Rachmaninov, by low strings especially and harps, as well as a mellow horn. The percussion (xylophone notably), woodwind, and solo violin also added much interest. The final crescendoed accelerando provided an exciting end.

Jill Hopkins

The musicians of the [orchestra] and their eminent [conductor] Michael Lloyd set themselves a sizeable challenge by programming two symphonies — Malcolm Arnold's No.5 Op.74 and Tchaikovsky's No.6 in B minor, Pathetique, Op.74.

Lloyd's introductory comments were most helpful regarding Arnold, a conscientious objector, and his thoughts about friends including Gerard Hoffnung and Dennis Brain.

This huge symphony requiring an orchestra of many and varied facets began with a solo oboe, which was soon tutti, including tubular bells. Tempestuoso exuded aggressive anger, especially from brass and pizzicato strings. But sweet harmonies from the magnificent strings contrasted and fine solos by clarinet, trumpet, horn and tuba featured.

Andante con moto was a wonderful transience to serene beauty as the expressive phrasing achieved by strings, and delicacy of harp and flute, interrupted by some dissonance from the brass, culminated in an unforgettable diminuendo and ritardando.

Tight rhythmic fragments, smoochy violins and joking woodwind characterized Con fuoco, and military aspirations within Risoluto of brass, drums and piccolos worked towards a brilliant climax, cymbals crashing — and suddenly, a pianissimo lone bell sounded.

This had been a perceptive interpretation, accomplished with distinction.

The Pathetique was another triumph as the Chandos performed this well loved work with passion.

Jill Hopkins