Review - Wednesday 20th November 2013 in The Abbey, Shrewsbury
For the final concert of its 125th Anniversary year, Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra invited the wonderfully talented violinist Tasmin Little to be the soloist in the concerto by Brahms. It was an inspired choice - she gave a simply stunning performance with playing of the highest quality, capturing every nuance in the music without losing touch with the overall structure of the work. The cadenza in the 1st movement was breathtaking with focused intonation, admirable technical control and beauty of tone. The slow movement was suitably meditative with the woodwind section underpinning a creamy, carefully wrought oboe solo which the solo violin was later to elaborate on with great lyricism. The Finale has the character of a Hungarian Dance and this performance was suitably fiery with a convincing dialogue between the soloist and the orchestra, who by now had risen to the occasion realising that they were part of something special. This movement is often taken at breakneck speed but here a well-paced start allowed the music to reserve some energy for a thrilling conclusion.
Tasmin Little is remarkable - the Brahms violin concerto may not be the showiest of pieces, but it is among the most difficult, and the rapid, flighty passages , double and triple stops and other technical challenges were all dispensed with clarity and control and with a total lack of ostentation.
The orchestra had fulfilled an admirable role in the concerto, so it was not surprising that the opening bars of the Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz which followed sounded a little weary . Shaky opening aside, the orchestra grew in confidence through the five movements to depict the varied moods of a score which ranges from the ‘darkly brooding’ to the ‘wildly grotesque’. Soloists from within the orchestra produced some exquisite moments, notably in the woodwind , while the percussion section’s depiction of an approaching storm was delivered with great relish.
The concert, which had begun with a neatly played Academic Festival Overture by Brahms, was ably conducted by John Moore who can again be proud of his orchestra’s achievements.
© Bob Wysome (reproduced by kind permission)