REVIEW: University of Chichester Chamber Orchestra & Soloists

Piers

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February’s Funtington Music Group concert, given by the University of Chichester Chamber Orchestra and friends, proved to be an outstanding event.

The Chamber Orchestra, now in its 13th year, conducted by Crispin Ward and Nathaniel Roff, gave compelling and highly accomplished performances of works by British and Hungarian composers and supported two international virtuosi, Zoltán Takács (violin) and Piers Adams (recorder).

The Chamber Orchestra opened the evening with the Fantasia on Greensleeves, by Ralph Vaughan Williams, conducted by Nathaniel Roff. A fine flute solo and sensitive playing from the strings set the scene for an evening during which the audience enjoyed much unforced, natural musicality. The Romanian Dances of Bela Bartok followed. Here, the Orchestra’s violins showed excellent articulation and ensemble. There was a real Hungarian feel to the piece, especially the violin solo in the third dance. The Orchestra responded to Roff’s conducting with energy and enthusisiam.

Crispin Ward introduced and conducted Vaughan Williams Lark Ascending, written in 1914, with the poem by George Meredith from which it takes its title. Zoltán Takács realized the piece wonderfully, his violin rising and soaring, the playing delicate, sensitive yet animated, standing out from the background yet part of the overall musical texture. The Orchestra, generally restrained but expansive where appropriate, included distinguished support from woodwind and brass. Finally, left on its own, the solo violin faded into the clear blue sky. A heartfelt performance.

Following the interval, Zoltán Takács revealed the more extrovert side of his musical personality with Bartok’s 1st Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra. Rich in folk melodies and harmonies, the rhythmic vitality of the piece was energetically realized by both soloist and orchestra.

A sparkling passage for the strings introduced the Concerto for Recorder by David Bedford. Written in 1994 for tonight’s soloist, Piers Adams, this highly imaginative piece requires the soloist to play five different recorders during its 18 minutes, sometimes playing two instruments at once! Moving from bass to increasingly high treble instruments the soloist conveyed a wide emotional range, the intensity and anguish of the middle section giving way to increasingly animated and rhythmical music, hurling the soloist towards to its brilliant conclusion. Piers Adams displayed virtuosity of the first order in this piece that makes great demands of the soloist, giving barely enough time to draw breath, let alone deliver the tonging and fingering required. Simply a tour de force!

At the end of a concert brimming with musical delights came Vaughan Williams English Folk Song Suite. This provided the Chamber Orchestra with the perfect opportunity to display their wide-ranging talents, under the baton of Nathaniel Roff. All sections played brilliantly with fine solos throughout from woodwind and brass players, and excellent playing from the cellos and basses in My Bonny Boy. The final Song from Somerset was wonderfully bright and brash, the music propelled along under a strong impulse to a rousing conclusion!

David Tinsley, FMG Chairman, thanked everyone, distinguished soloists and orchestra, for a wonderful evening. He said that the concert had been a resounding pleasure for all, including the wonderful orchestra who had so obviously enjoyed playing for us. This was music making at its best!

Funtington Music Group welcomes new members at any time during the year. Full details from our Membership Secretary on 01243 378900 or visit our website at www.funtingtonmusicgroup.org.uk

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