Review - Wednesday 19th June 2013 in The Abbey, Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury Abbey Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra presented its summer concert at Shrewsbury Abbey, attracting a large audience who enjoyed a varied selection of music. We were first transported to the shores of the Hebrides with Mendelssohn’s popular Fingal’s Cave overture. The wisps of melody that begin the piece were tantalisingly passed around the orchestra before cellos and bassoons gracefully delivered the work’s principal tune. The dramatic orchestral outbursts which follow led to an appropriately subdued conclusion.
Violinist David Joyce was the soloist in ‘The Lark Ascending’ by Vaughan Williams. This was a totally captivating performance, with the string section’s magical opening chords providing a haunting platform for the violin’s entry with its short, trilling birdsong phrases leading to a most eloquently played solo passage and folk-like melody. David Joyce is to be congratulated on his lovely interpretation - sensitive, with well-focussed intonation and phrasing, superb control of dynamics, and most judicious use of vibrato. The performance did justice to the composer’s description of this piece as ‘an English landscape translated into musical terms’.
In great contrast, the orchestra dived headlong into Chabrier’s rhapsody ‘Espana’, played with relish by the whole orchestra who obviously enjoyed entering into the world of Spanish melody and rhythm.
The second half of the concert was a performance of Elgar’s 1st Symphony. This was as good a performance as I have witnessed from this fine orchestra in recent years. From the opening drum rolls and noble slow march of the first movement, through the scurrying semiquavers of the Scherzo, the exquisite beauty of the slow movement and the bringing together of earlier musical ideas in the Finale, the orchestra played above themselves, displaying style, sensitivity and musicianship which conductor John Moore coaxed from this ambitious orchestra.
© Bob Wysome (reproduced by kind permission)