Monday, February 14, 2011

M&G Concert at the Civic Theatre

A predominantly sunny Pastoral Symphony from Sinfonia ViVA and their youthful maestro André de Ridder. Beethoven's familiar sound pictures came up fresh as paint in this very enjoyable performance, starting with a light-footed Allegro, then leading through the gentle, easy rhythms of the brook and an athletic country dance to the sudden storm and the shepherd's song.

Written just a generation later, and clearly influenced by Beethoven, Schumann's early, incomplete Zwickau Symphony had a welcome airing to start the evening. A clean string sound , with crisp brass behind. I liked the energy at the end of the first movement, and the good-humoured Scherzo. I did feel, though, that this young man's symphony merited a lighter touch at times.

Between these two German masters, an amusingly astringent sorbet: Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite, from the ballet he wrote for Diaghilev just after the Great War [stage designs by Pablo Picasso!]. Soloists and sections are often give their own voice, as in the Serenata [violin – leader Benedict Holland - and oboe] and the showy Toccata. The Vivo just before the Finale was great fun, with the lower voices to the fore – double bass and trombone.

The last of this very successful M&G Concert Series is on March 29, with the City of London Sinfonia.

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