BWW Reviews: EVENINGS AT ELDER HALL 2013: CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA: Young Musicians Thrill Audiences with Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra
Reviewed by Blake Parham, Saturday 26th October 2013
The eighth and final concert in the Evenings at Elder Hall concert series, Concerto for Orchestra, was a chance for the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the anniversaries of three great classical composers, Benjamin Britten and Witold Lutoslawski, both of whom celebrate their centenaries this year, and Richard Wagner, who celebrates his bi-centenary. This group of talented young musicians, under the superb guidance of conductor, Keith Crellin, took on three very challenging works by these masters.
Wagner's Prelude to Tristan und Isolde opened the program and was well presented by the orchestra, even if a few nerves did show during the opening phrases. Following this the strings performed Benjamin Britten's Les Illuminations featuring tenor soloist Patrick Power, whose strong voice allowed him to present a very powerful and evocative portrayal of the text. This work requires a high degree of attention to be paid to tonal colouring and phrasing from the strings in order to create the appropriate atmosphere for the text, something which this group succeeded in mastering. The work of concertmaster, Simone Slattery, should also be noted as her clear directions allowed for the orchestra to act as a whole rather than a group of individuals, while a solo in part B of the third movement, Antique, showcased her skill as a solo violinist.
The stand out work of the evening, however, was Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra. This highly complex work, with its frequent time signature changes and demanding fast passages, highlighted the skill of these musicians. The Concerto was superbly played from the tender opening bars to the final cathartic forte which heralds the conclusion of the work. Finally the experience, clarity, and passion with which Crellin conducted this work, seems to have enabled them to produce a truly splendid performance of possibly Lutoslawski's finest composition.
A thrilling concert of wonderful music, one can only hope that these celebratory concerts continue in the years to come.