Review - Wed 30 Nov 2016
In recent years Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra has shown great imagination and initiative in its programme planning. This was again apparent in the orchestra’s recent concert at the Alington Hall of Shrewsbury School. In a praiseworthy attempt to attract a younger audience to classical music, the programme was centred around Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’, a musical tale where each of the story’s characters is represented by a particular instrumental sound. The challenging solo parts were superbly played by an aptly perky flute (bird), a husky low-pitched oboe (duck), a cool dude cat (clarinet), a suitably tetchy bassoon (grandfather), vigorous timpani (gun-shots), the prowling French horns (wolf) and the sedate strings (Peter) ; but, of course, the success of this work depends upon the narrator – and this role was taken by the talented actor Robert Daws whose delivery was crisp and clear and his timing immaculate.
The concert had begun with a confident performance of Humperdinck’s Hansel & Gretel overture followed by Handel’s Fireworks music, which allowed the brass section to empty its lungs in the robust fanfare passages. However, this work from the Baroque seemed a little out of place amongst the late-Romantic pieces in the programme.
The second half was made up of Classic FM favourites. Despite a few early lapses in intonation Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite no.1 was played with great sensitivity, particularly in Ase’s Death movement, where the string sound was quite ethereal. The final work was Smetana’s delightful ‘Vltava’, a tone-poem depicting the course of the Vltava river from its source as a mountain stream to its majestic entry into Prague. The orchestra played this work with considerable relish and left the audience humming the memorable melodies as they left.
This was a good start to the orchestra’s season, with much credit going to leader Paul Bramwell and buoyant conductor John Moore.
There was a nice touch before the concert proper began, The ‘In Harmony Children’s Orchestra’ based in Telford and Wrekin, whose aim is to put music at the centre of the local community, played for a short time in front of parents and friends, with some of them joining the Shrewsbury orchestra in the Fireworks music. Judging by the enthusiastic audience response and the proud looks on the faces of the young players as they left the stage, then this project can be deemed a tremendous success.
© Bob Wysome (reproduced by kind permission)