ORCHESTRA OF THE SWAN
M&G Concert at the Civic Theatre
The Swan, as in Avon. This ambitious chamber band is based in Shakespeare's Stratford, and will be playing there on the Bard's Birthday later this month.
For the last of this season's M&G Civic Concerts, they brought with them three pieces from Italy, and three from England. And a superstar soloist, the guitarist Craig Ogden.
Vivaldi's Guitar Concerto in the first half – full of fun and sunshine, with eloquent conversations in the beautiful Largo between Ogden and Nick Stringfellow's agile cello.
After the interval, Malcolm Arnold's Guitar Concerto, first played in 1959 by Arnold's friend Julian Bream, to whom it is dedicated. Witty dialogue between orchestra and soloist, a lovely big tune, and emotional intensity in the extended slow movement, inspired by the legendary Django Rheinhardt.
Superb musicianship from Ogden in both, and one of the best pre-concert talks we've had here, in which he revealed trade secrets with sandpaper and ping-pong balls.
The orchestra rounded the evening off with a brisk Simple Symphony [Britten], and also included a luscious Crisantemi [Puccini] and a Pergolesi Concertino to start, showcasing the Orchestra's rich, burnished string tone.
A bonus Elegy, from Ireland's Downland Suite, which features on the Swan's new CD.