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CONCERT REVIEW: Boston Sinfonia, Conductor: Nigel Morley, St Mary's Church, Frampton




There were no words of introduction for Boston Sinfonia's spring concert at St Mary's Church, Frampton, on Saturday night.

No explanation of the orchestra's choice of Russian and Finnish works to compete against the strong winds and driving rain outside St Mary's.

Neither was there any explanation for those members of the audience who came from outside the Boston borough area that Boston Sinfonia had temporarily relocated to Frampton because of the £2.7million A Passion for the People project to make Boston Stump (the orchestra's traditional home) more flood-resistant.

Boston Sinfonia played works by Glinka, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius (Symphony no 1) at St Mary's Church, Frampton, on Saturday. Photo supplied. (7855146)
Boston Sinfonia played works by Glinka, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius (Symphony no 1) at St Mary's Church, Frampton, on Saturday. Photo supplied. (7855146)

In truth, none of these omissions mattered once the 55-strong orchestra opened its recital with a short and strident rendition of Russian composer Mikhail Glinka's Overture from Ruslan and Ludmilla.

Considered to be the father of Russian classical music, the excerpt from Glinka's second opera paved the way nicely for perhaps the most famous Russian-composed opera of them all, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

Featuring three of the most instantly recognisable pieces of classical music ever composed, including the Dance of the Swans, the six movements played at St Mary's were done so in a way that fitted the programme's description of them - "melodies that beg to be danced".

Mention should be made of lead violinist Anne Dales, cellist Glenis Malkin and harpist Thea Butterworth whose expertise and skill were a delight to see and hear during the fourth and sixth movements.

Boston Sinfonia played works by Glinka, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius (Symphony no 1) at St Mary's Church, Frampton, on Saturday. Photo supplied. (7855116)
Boston Sinfonia played works by Glinka, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius (Symphony no 1) at St Mary's Church, Frampton, on Saturday. Photo supplied. (7855116)

After an interval, the stage was set for Sibelius' exhausting but highly romantic Symphony no. 1.

Described by the late conductor, composer and fellow Finn Simon Parmet as "music of a young giant, full of a fiery love for his country and flaming defiance against its oppressors", this symphony served as the gateway to Sibelius' most famous work, Finlandia.

Given the first movement's motto of "A cold, cold wind is blowing from the sea", the whole symphony proved appropriate for the stormy night before the second movement brings softness and subtlety in equal measure.

Nigel Morley, principal conductor of the Boston Sinfonia. Photo by Standley. (7857810)
Nigel Morley, principal conductor of the Boston Sinfonia. Photo by Standley. (7857810)

The second half of the symphony could have been the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's favourite composer, Bernard Herrmann, and his work on the 1959 espionage classic, North By Northwest.

No wonder Nigel Morley looked out on his feet at the end of conducting this mighty symphony, much to the admiration of another Boston Sinfonia audience at the end of a truly magical night of music.

Review by Winston Brown



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