Liz Noble reviews the November Concert
CPSO gave their first public performance since the start of the pandemic and it was a real delight to not only hear live orchestral music but to meet up with many old friends, both in the orchestra and the audience, and the concert was encouragingly well attended.
The orchestra has a new conductor, Bjorn Bantock, who proved to be not only a well-travelled conductor, but truly sensitive to the players yet commanding a discipline resulting in good dynamics and balance. The programme showcased just two composers, both crowd pleasers, Beethoven and Dvorak.
The Beethoven overture “The Consecration of the House” was not well known by many and was a bit sedate at times, but with varied and sometimes unusual use of melodies, the orchestral sections increased the momentum to give a triumphant grand conclusion. An excellent taster for the Beethoven “Emperor” piano concerto to follow. The soloist, the diminutive Indonesian Imma Setiadi, made a welcome return to play with the orchestra.
Although this concerto was the first concerto Beethoven was unable to perform in person due to his increasing deafness, the music speaks volumes for his love of melody and varied styles and Imma did not hold back with her powerful introduction and enthusiasm for this well known work. The first movement, Allegro, was exciting and confident, but the Adagio however was a true delight, melodious and sensitive interaction between the piano and orchestra, particularly the pizzicato accompaniment of the double basses together with the muted upper strings. The Rondo conclusion was in contrast exhilarating and strong, bringing the work to another confident achievement by all. The audience were delighted with this performance and after the well-deserved applause, Imma said she was so pleased to be back and would like to play a short prelude in support of the power of the human race and live music. It was a very moving presentation and obviously pleased all in the auditorium.
Dvorak’s 7th symphony concluded the concert with its usual flourish, albeit in sombre mood and a real tour de force for the orchestra......lots of notes and rhythms! The dark start soon builds as the subjects develop to confident climaxes, followed by an opportunity for the woodwind in the slow movement with beautiful melodies. The Scherzo gives interesting rhythms and leads into the finale with strong, but still tragic, and varied themes.
It was an excellent overall concert with more confident playing, which after such a long gap since the last live performance is a great achievement. A good way to spend a Saturday afternoon and look forward to the continued development of the orchestra under its new Musical Director.