Review: Colour, invention and sensation from Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra in Leamington

Clive Peacock reviews Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra at All Saints' church, Leamington

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 4:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 4:35 pm
The orchestra at a previous concert at All Saints'

Playing an early 1700 Mezzadri violin (on loan from the Stradivari Trust), Zoë Byers was in top form at All Saints' church. Alessandro Mezzadri is one of the most under-appreciated makers of great importance in the classic Italian violin making tradition – not a harsh tone but one with a special vitality. As she tackled Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor Op 64, Zoë’s furrowed brow showed just how she concentrated in establishing the intense theme upon which the movement is built. Her cadenza playing in that opening movement was full of light touches and fine control,

Working with conductor Roger Coull, who was clearly enjoying this performance, Zoë was confident in upping the pace at the movement end before the delightful link with the entry of the bassoon, which takes charge at the start of the slow movement. Powerful bowing, without the need for any of the hysterical dramas so frequently witnessed from players seeking to impress, led to a stunning conclusion of a very mature, composed delivery of this much-loved work. Zoë’s work with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire involved her as a coach to this year’s Leamington Music Prize Competition winners; the quintet will, hopefully, perform in Leamington later in the year.

Dmitri Shostakovich began his musical education at the Glasser School of Music; by the age of 19 and, already very socially and politically aware, he trained at the Petrograd Conservatory. His diploma work was his Symphony No 1 in F Op 10. This immediately established him as an important output of the Bolshevik experiment – a Soviet Union star as distinct from an imperialist Russian prodigy!

Coull is capable of bringing the very best from his players. Clarinettist Helen Finch,gave of her very best, so too flautist Celia Mills and bassoonist Patrick Hinks, in a remarkably colourful, inventive performance with a sensational storm delivered by timpanist Jon Maynard. George Ewart led and provided an excellent solo in the last movement of what may be the last concert in Leamington for a while. How very sad.