LONDON MOZART PLAYERS
Jim Hutchon was at the Civic Theatre
18th April 2010
M&G’s latest concert of the season at the Civic brought us the London Mozart Players, under conductor Owain Arwel Hughes, playing a pair of Beethoven numbers sandwiching Haydn’s Cello Concerto.
The opening overture, Egmont, brought out the LMP’s customary superb balance and lyric qualities in a spirited rendition of the1809 overture, conceived while Beethoven was hiding in a friend’s cellar bombarded by shells during the brief French occupation of Vienna, hence the war-like tone of much of the early movement. The allegro is marked by intense energy among the strings – echoed by a resounding brass. This energy is intensified in the closing con brio which brings the piece to a triumphant, victorious close.
The soloist in the Cello Concerto was Thomas Carroll, who took the piece by storm from the opening bars. Despite its complexity in the first movement, Carroll’s technical virtuosity was matched with real understanding of the music, especially in a dark, understated but technically brilliant short cadenza. The slow movement was a master class in the lyrical qualities of the cello, much of it in the instrument’s higher register. The third movement was a blaze of colour and sound from the soloist matched by a bravura performance by the whole orchestra.
The closing piece was Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, originally dedicated to Napoleon but changed by the composer to ‘Eroica’ after a change of heart. The opening allegro con brio is a fiendishly complicated but musically satisfying and with great flourishes by the strings and especially the horns. But it also has an almost rural, pastoral section in it. The Marcia Funebre was suitably restrained with an underlying sense of drive and feeling, and is, in many ways, the defining movement of the whole Symphony. The Scherzo was a triumph of power and energy – again with a strident call to arms by the horns, three of which have solos of their own, and the allegro is a drive to express Beethoven’s heroic vision in mankind.
Over the years, these concerts have made Chelmsford an acclaimed centre of classical music, and the nearly full house for this one was testament to an audience which had come from far and wide for the privilege.