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).
Sat 5th May 2018, Colyer-Fergusson Hall, 7.30pm
Tickets available from the Gulbenkian Box Office at £15 and £8 for students and children
Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music
Brahms: Alto Rhapsody
Britten: Hymn to St Cecilia
Elgar: Enigma Variations
Andrew Lowen conductor
Canterbury Orchestra celebrates ‘Music & Friendship’ with Wagner’s overture Mastersingers and Elgar’s portrait of his friends, the Enigma Variations. Their friends Lees Court Music join them in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music and on their own in Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia, she being the patron saint of our noble art. To complete the programme Brahms’ seeks solace from loneliness in music in his beautiful Alto Rhapsody.
Details of forthcoming concerts are also listed in the Events Diary of the Canterbury Arts Council website and on the Orchestra's Facebook page.