Liz Noble reviews the Autumn concert
The CPSO autumn 2023 concert was on Remembrance Sunday and featured a welcome return of pianist, composer and teacher Jeremy Young. The audience were treated to the cheerful yet robust Beethoven overture 'The Creatures of Prometheus' written for his only full length ballet. Nowadays the overture is the most frequently performed part of the ballet and, whilst not long, provided a light, cheerful and delightfully performed start to the concert.
Beethoven is often pictured as a dramatic, dark personality where tragic life events shaped both him and his music. The performance of Piano Concerto no. 3 dispelled all that. The concerto gave the piano a thorough workout and perhaps a full size grand piano would have done the work more justice. However Jeremy’s intricate double handed trills in which he played a melody with his “spare” fingers were stunning. The first movement was full of turbulent passages but soon relaxed to lead into a tender and lyrical second movement where the balance and dynamics with the orchestra were charming.
This work was premiered with Beethoven as the soloist in 1803 when it is said that the score was almost blank with just odd notes because Beethoven had run out of time to write it all down! At the time said to have confused the page turner, two centuries later Jeremy used an iPad so no paqe turner was required! The finale was another mixture of emotions and speeds with the Rondo ending marked Presto to show off the pianist and orchestra at breath-taking pace.
Sibelius Symphony No 2 in D major concluded the afternoon programme - a truly difficult work and one written at a very difficult time for Sibelius himself. Although he was beginning to make a name as a composer, problems with marriage, money and drinking caused a depression made worse by the loss of his baby daughter from typhus. An admirer gathered funds to enable the whole family to visit Italy and it was here that he began work on his second symphony. After visiting Rome for inspiration he returned to Finland where the work was completed and premiered in March 1902. The second movement, marked Andante, is full of intrigue and involves all sections of the orchestra in turn. Well done to all for the dynamic interpretations and concluding fortissimo climax. The third movement was fast and involved pastoral oboe melodies, interspersed with brass, that develop and lead to the heroic finale where we are left in no doubt that the climax is due. The tension builds in the repeat of a previous stirring large tune and involves the brass to conclude the triumphant work.
Congratulations to Bjorn and the whole orchestra for succeeding so well with a tough programme and giving us such an entertaining afternoon.