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.


Rebecca Eldridge has been an exceptionally busy bassoonist over the last week or so. During the last weekend in March she played in the Elgar Sinfonia for the Kidderminster Choral Society, playing next day in the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra. And last Sunday she starred as soloist in the Nino Rota Concerto for her instrument.

She and Malvern's Chandos Symphony Orchestra had only met the previous day, and this was the first time she had ever performed this rare work with orchestra accompaniment. The result was exhilarating.

It's a colourful piece, generous with melody, eloquently harmonised, glamorously scored and energetically rhythmic (seeing soloist and harpist bopping away during the silent bar was a tonic in itself) — and owes a huge debt to Prokofiev's ballets.

But so what? It's both fun and affecting, the bassoon sometimes assumes a poignant Falstaffian character, and Rota's well-judged writing for the instrument demanding a huge range if technique and musicianship from the soloist, challenges to which Eldridge rose magnificently. She brought a fabulous tone uniformly persuasive throughout a huge range, dexterity, wit and poise, and a machine gun clarity of articulation.

Framing this were two Russian masterpieces, conductor Richard Laing [persuading these only-occasionally meeting amateurs that they can punch well above their weight. Stravinsky's Firebird Suite was excitingly delivered, with marvellous solo woodwind contributions, the ferocious Infernal Dance confident in its terrorising.

And Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony, a work which means so much to Laing (who emerged emotionally drained at the end), was given with an impressive maturity of tone (not least from the heavy brass) and a wonderful combination of the balletic (fluttering woodwind, for example) and the introspective.

But there were problems of intonation in the nether regions from which the symphony emerges and into which it sinks at the end. We had noticed the same as the Firebird opened. Individual pre-rehearsal part-learning is one thing, but in the short time the players get together, they must learn more how to listen and adjust to each other.

Christopher Morley