Review - Wed 03 Dec 2014
The recent concert by Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra at the Alington Hall once again exemplified the bold programming and technical capabilities of this fine orchestra. After a spirited performance of the ‘Prometheus’ overture by Beethoven, notable for some crisp woodwind playing and a rich string tone, we were treated to his Violin Concerto, with capable soloist Michael Bochmann . The first movement began with an orchestral exposition of the main theme, based on a five note timpani figure, before the soloist joined in. At this point there was a slight intonation ‘conflict’ between soloist and orchestra which was soon corrected to reveal some neat solo passage-work against a sensitive orchestral backdrop. If the first movement felt a little soul-less, the slow movement was riveting, with conductor John Moore achieving a real orchestral ‘pianissimo’ against which the solo violin provided simple decoration. The last movement was suitably perky with dance-like rhythms dominating and the soloist leaping far above the stave with sparkling runs, trills and arpeggios.
But the evening’s highlight was yet to come - Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ suite , rarely tackled by amateur orchestras. After restraining themselves to accompany the concerto, they dived headlong into this suite with great vigour and obvious relish. From the Introduction, with its shimmering strings and splashes of high brilliance in the woodwind, to the syncopated rhythms and clashing harmonies of the Infernal Dance and the mighty procession of brass chords in the Finale, the orchestra played out of its skin with some excellent solos on woodwind and horn. This most challenging of works ended in a burst of fantastic brilliance which, quite rightly, drew rapturous applause from an impressed audience.
One can only admire the ambition of this orchestra, the skills of leader Paul Bramwell and the musicianship of conductor John Moore.
© Bob Wysome (reproduced by kind permission)