Chandos Reviews

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A huge range and complexity of sound was embraced in the Chandos's concert with Michael Lloyd conducting, leader Shulah Oliver.

First we were transported to the sultry atmosphere of Spain in Chabrier's Rhapsody for Orchestra 'Espana'.

Plucking resembled castanets, and moody horns and trombones with woodwind and percussion evoking excitement and energy.

A solo lucid flute pervaded Prélude — l'après-midi d'un faune by Debussy in an emotive interpretation as murmuring low strings, beautiful harps, impressionistic horns and woodwind, described the thoughts a young faun had of love. Soloist Anne-Marie Owens (mezzo soprano), was added for Schéhérazade by Ravel, a song cycle when the orchestra instilled a back- drop for this dream of amorous eroticism.

All the bitterness and pessimism Shostakovich felt was shown in the Chandos's exposition of his Symphony No. 8 in C minor. The orchestra's instrumentalists imbued stark discomfort from the violins, even more frightening when other strings, trumpets and woodwind joined in, and a rising hymn of mourning threatened. They all added lo the cacophony in an amazing performance.

Jill Hopkins

The high-light of this concert by the Chandos conducted by Richard Laing, was the performance of William Walton's Violin Concerto, a challenging work of technical virtuosity, with Caroline Pether winner of the Chandos Young Musician Competition in 2008, as soloist.

Andante tranquillo began with mesmerising sounds of horns, low strings and woodwind, the soloist emerging simultaneously with her theme. Later, her cadenza was impressively varied with double-stopping and beautiful high notes. Orchestral 'tutti' playing was powerful and Caroline's low notes were like rich velvet.

Presto capriccioso alla napolitana plunged the Chandos into action and Caroline moved with bravura between pizzicato and harmonics.

The final Vivace of super rhythmic low strings, fluttering violins and Caroline's illusive high registered accompanied cadenza, closed with a spirited march concluding a competent delivery by this talented young violinist, although there had been moments when the orchestra had been at variance with her.

The Wasps by Vaughan Williams opened with stunning buzzing strings and folk-like tunes in glorious light-hearted polyphony, harp and woodwind adding colour.

The atmospheric Noonday Witch by Dvorak gave the fabulous Chandos a real chance to show its merit as the lowest notes of the tuba, and other noteworthy brass chased strings, woodwind and percussion.

In tuneful excerpts from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, the orchestra was magnificent, especially in The Battle when crashing cymbals and drums echoed around.

Jill Hopkins

This was an attractive and varied concert with the principal aim of showcasing the remarkable talent of Caroline Pether, winner of the Chandos Young Musician Competition in 2008

Young she may be, but her mature musicality and superlative technique meant that within seconds of the opening of Walton's Violin Concerto we were drawn into a yearningly lyrical performance that put aside any thoughts of her youth. Originally written for Jascha Heifetz, this piece demands a lot from its soloist and Pether showed us every facet of the work from soaring open-hearted melodic lines to exhilarating technical display, infused with Mediterranean warmth and passion. Conductor Richard Laing steered a secure course through the concerto's severe orchestral demands which combined rhythmic firmness and forward momentum with emotional radiance. This was a deeply felt performance and Caroline Pether is definitely a name to look out for.

Elsewhere was pure delight too, with a lot of excellent playing. In Vaughan Williams' Wasps Overture the horns distinguished themselves with their glorious big tune, Dvorak's The Noonday Witch traced its grisly story of a child killed by an evil spirit with Straussian precision and hideous malevolent triumph at the end. It was a relief to turn to the more friendly fairytale world of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. The generous excerpts from Act 1 gave the orchestra many opportunities to display their rich string tone, characterful woodwind and to close the concert with a feeling that all was right with the world.

John Francis