Monday, January 21, 2008


M&G Concert at the Civic


A celebration of melody” - that was conductor Dominic Wheeler's promise to the audience at the third of this season's M&G Civic Concerts.

It held true even in the World Premiere – a CLS commission written by their trombonist composer Dan Jenkins for their trumpeter Nicholas Betts. Jenkins visualizes a fictional punter, enjoying Rossini's William Tell Overture – which began Sunday's programme - and wondering why they don't write tunes like that any more. So he sets out to bring us accessible work - “nice melodies ... nothing too hard on the ear.”

His Trumpet Concerto, dedicated to the memory of Roger Brenner, was inventive, almost catchy, especially in the light-hearted third movement. Betts gave a virtuoso performances, including some lovely dreamy passages on the flugelhorn, not often heard in a symphonic setting.

The Sinfonia ended the concert with a brisk Beethoven Seven. Wheeler brought out the lively melancholy of the work, in a meticulous reading. The Allegretto [more tunes]was less of a dirge than it sometimes is, and the nimble Presto and the breathless Allegro con Brio were driven along by the stylish timpanist, none other than the legendary Tristan Fry.

I'd spotted the flamboyant percussionist early on, but I had to be told - via a scribbled note from DLS, just who he was...

Tristan Fry began his career by joining the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 17. He was a founder member of a number of ensembles, such as the Nash, Fires of London and the London Sinfonietta. He also became involved in many commercial recordings, TV shows and films, playing on such diverse soundtracks as the Beatles records, James Bond films, Dr. Who and the Rolf Harris shows. Tristan is the timpanist with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Orchestra and has performed on the majority of their recordings and in concert. He is the drummer with the pop group SKY, has given many solo concerts of avant garde percussion repertoire, and has hosted a TV show, "Countdown to the Festival". He played in John Dankworth's orchestra, recorded the Bartok Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion three times, and performed in concert with such legends as Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Fred Astaire and Stravinsky.

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