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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

FRENCH TALES

Sat 8th July 2018, 
St Stephen’s Sports Hall, CT2 7AD

Tickets £10 & £5 (Family tickets £20) on the door or from the Orchestra Secretary 01227 751196

Ravel: Pavane, Mother Goose Suite
Fauré: Dolly Suite, Sicilienne
Saint-Saens: Carnival of the Animals
Debussy: Petite Suite


Andrew Lowen conductor

Canterbury Orchestra present a programme of French music specially chosen to appeal to the younger listener as well as the discerning adult, including the delightful Mother Goose Suite by Ravel and the Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens. The programme also includes Ravel's Pavane and the well known Sicilienne by Fauré, together with an arrangement for winds of Debussy's Petite Suite

 

 

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.