CITY OF LONDON SINFONIA
M&G Civic Concert
For their second visit this year, the CLS chose four accessible works from the chamber ensemble repertoire. This time they brought with them two great names in British music – pianist Peter Donohue, who first appeared at the Civic some thirty years ago, and clarinettist Michael Collins, who also conducted the Sinfonia in Rossini and Tchaikovsy, as well as directing Weber from the clarinet.
This was the Quintet, arranged for string orchestra, and played here with great delicacy, especially in the pianissimo passages in the Fantasia. After an agile, playful Menuetto, he took the Finale at a canter, to the delight of players and audience alike.
Donohue was the soloist in Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto, performed with a manic sense of fun, but managing, in the second movement, a more sombre mood, silky melancholic strings building to something more monumentally tragic. The trumpet, giving a wry commentary from the opposite side of the stage, drowsily muted in that Lento, was Nicholas Betts. In the bravura closing Allegro, the soloist really looked as if he were enjoying the ride, like an enthusiast behind the wheel of a vintage Bugatti.
Rossini's Sonata for Strings was blithely tuneful, with a lovely lightness of touch, and a passionate operatic Andantino. Tchaikovsky's Souvenirs de Florence, a late work, had a rich sheen in the string tone, some beautiful dialogue between cello and violin, and an emotional finale, bathed in the same Mediterranean sunshine as the Rossini.