Review - Wed 19 Mar 2015
Shrewsbury Abbey was the attractive venue for the latest concert by the Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra. This orchestra has developed immensely in recent years and this concert displayed once again what an excellent ensemble it has become. The evening began with Rossini’s overture ‘The Thieving Magpie’. After two opening drum rolls the full orchestra announced the march theme with great conviction and crisp articulation. There were some delightful woodwind solos before the typical Rossini ‘crescendo’ arrived, which was cleverly controlled by conductor John Moore.
Next came the Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss with soprano soloist Naomi Harvey. This was a captivating performance and displayed secure rhythmic control and attractive tone quality across all the vocal registers ; in addition, her breath control in some of Strauss’s very long phrases was remarkable, as was her attention to word-painting. The orchestral accompaniment to the songs was also impressive with a ravishing string sound and a unity of articulation throughout.
After the interval we were treated to a performance of Dvorak’s Symphony No.6. Not as well-known as his ‘New World’ Symphony, nevertheless it has many qualities of its own, which were highlighted in this performance; the first movement combined traditional classical structure with aspects of Czech folk music. The slow movement was notable for the impassioned melody played on the violins, while the third movement released a lively scherzo based on the Czech ‘furiant’ dance, powerfully delivered by this fine orchestra. The last movement was notable for the scurrying string playing, a bouncing dance-like tune played well by clarinet and violas and which is used as a subject for imitation. The final moments of this work were most exciting, with the rushing strings, a version of the main theme and some hymn-like brass chords all combining in a powerful conclusion.
Another wonderful evening - congratulations to all involved with SSO.
© Bob Wysome (reproduced by kind permission)