Review - Wed 16 Mar 2016
Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra began its 2016 concert season with a programme of Russian music at Shrewsbury Abbey. The concert began with Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slave, which the orchestra played with great spirit from the outset - a good choice of opener, as it is well within the capabilities of an amateur orchestra and is full of attractive tunes based upon Serbian folk songs. This was followed by the 2nd Spartacus Suite by the Armenian composer, Aram Khachaturian. The opening movement’s main theme was used as the signature tune of ‘The Onedin Line’ , and here it was notable for the lush string playing depicting the love scene between Spartacus and Phrygia. The other three movements were equally convincing , with some accomplished solo playing by the principal clarinettist being a high point.
The second half was devoted to what was to prove an exhilarating performance of Tchaikovsky’s 4th symphony. Conductor John Moore drew from the players a wide palette of orchestral colour, with good phrasing , sensitively controlled vibrato and, above all, great energy. In the first movement , the opening fanfare-like figures were well articulated, and the orchestra gave constant attention to the gradual changes of dynamics and textures. The middle movements had some lovely moments, from the gracious oboe solo of the 2nd movement to the well-controlled string pizzicatos which dominate the Scherzo. The final movement provided an excellent finish to the concert, with the semiquaver passage-work of the strings, fluid wind sounds and meaty brass and percussion all contributing to a memorable performance of this most challenging of symphonies.
Congratulations to conductor, leader and all sections of the orchestra for such an enjoyable evening’s entertainment, and we look forward to their next concert on May 25th , when virtuoso violinist, Jennifer Pike, will join with the orchestra to play the violin concerto of Edward Elgar.
© Bob Wysome (reproduced by kind permission)