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Canterbury Orchestra

Review of Concert 27 June 2009

A Taste of France  - 'French Feast's Tasty Starter'

The orchestra opened its all-French summer programme with Fauré's Pavane, highly appropriate for this evening, since it was conceived as an item for inclusion in a series of light summer concerts.  In keeping with Belle Epoche mores, it is an elegant, albeit commercial, re-working of a Renaissance dance form, designed for entertainment rather than high art.  In this performance it received a reading that displayed a pleasingly light touch for the most part although, towards the end, more than a hint of an English pastoral tone had crept into the orchestra's playing, a fuller and less pithy timbre that does not sit comfortably with Fauré's music.

Thus an elegant ambience gave way, to my ears at least, to a more bucolic and dramatic soundscape.  More dramatic still is Berlioz's song-cycle Les Nuits d'Été, on this evening featuring the soprano Penelope Martin Smith.  The text is unmistakably Romantic, potent imagery, heavy with symbolic and often dark meaning, aimed at exposing the essence of personal experiences.  Martin Smith has a powerful rounded tone, a flexibility of enunciation, a range of vocal colour and control of dynamics that, combined with her crystal clear diction, resulted in a deeply emotive and expressive performance, particularly in her ability to melt into and re-emerge from the orchestral texture. For its part, the orchestra worked well with its singer to extract the maximum from the text. The orchestra opened the post-interval proceedings with more from Faure, this time his Sicilienne from the Pelleas et Melisande Suite.

We were presented with another light and unmistakably French piece, as a prelude to the main item of the second half, Bizet's Symphony in C major. This is the exuberat creation of a 17-year­old. Accordingly, it becomes the duty of any interpreter to consider its composer's age and experience and to infuse a performance with a youthful musical joie de vivre.  This point had been taken on board by the orchestra as it worked through the score with brio and a strong performance.

Mark Mortimer  (Kentish Gazette).

Next Concert

RUSSIAN ROMANTICS

Sat 25th November 2017, Colyer-Fergusson Hall, 7.30pm
Tickets available from the Gulbenkian Box Office at £15 and £8 for students and children

Glinka: Ruslan & Ludmilla

Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini (soloist Christopher Weston, piano)

Moussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition

Andrew Lowen conductor

Our final concert of the year carries forward the focus of the Spring Concert on music from the great Russian Romantic composers, beginning  with the overture from Glinka’s second opera, a rumbustious piece said to have been inspired by the clatter of cutlery at a court wedding! We are delighted to welcome back Christopher Weston to play Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, a concertante work for solo piano and orchestra comprising 24 variations on the last of Paganini’s Caprices for solo violin. The concluding work will be Moussorgsky’s Picture at an Exhibition, inspired by the paintings of his friend Victor Hartmann.

More Information

Canterbury Arts CouncilDetails of forthcoming concerts are also listed in the Events Diary of the Canterbury Arts Council website and on the Orchestra's Facebook page.