Review: Camerata in Doncaster

Posted on April 2, 2010

Eileen Caiger Gray reviews Manchester Camerata’s recent concert at the Civic Theatre in Doncaster in

“Pieces from five wonderfully varied composers ensured an evening of stimulating entertainment. Joseph Wolfe wielded the baton before the Manchester Camerata strings, employing a conducting style as expressive from behind as from in front, incorporating, as it did, various horse-riding techniques and occasional leaps into the air. What a shame, though, that Mr Wolfe remained silent all evening, offering no clues whatsoever as to the identity of the pieces played: with no printed programme available, many listeners were left in the dark, suffering varying degrees of dismay, disappointment and annoyance. Accustomed, in Doncaster, to the chatty, informative introductions of Ensemble 360, this came as a particular shock.

Nineteen string players first took us from desolation to joyous, bell-ringing heights and back again in Britten’s Prelude and Fugue For 18 Strings, the lead violin contributing canary-sweet delights that inspired a great yearning for a full violin concerto. The first viola and cello also made delicious contributions during the evening.

In William Alwyn‘s tone poem, Autumn Legend, Rachael Clegg elicited rich, fulsome, round sounds from her cor anglais, conjuring up for me (rightly or wrongly!) visions of snake charmers and of Lawrence of Arabia travelling across the swirling sands (in autumn, of course), while, with Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro Op 47 (his ‘Welsh tune’) we were treated to warmth, drama and excitement and some of those typical sweeping, expansive passages that are so much loved.

After the interval, upper registers on their feet, the group performed two pieces by Argentine composer, Astor Piazzolla, proponent of the nuevo tango. His Four for Tango, full of exciting novelty, was met with great approval and appreciation as the lower strings powered along like a chugging train, their deep tones punctuated by the shimmers and startled hiccupping screeches of the higher register instruments. In contrast, Melodia en La Menor, expressed beautiful, heart-aching melancholy. With the addition of two horns and two cor anglais, our finale took the form of one of Mozart’s earlier symphonies, the pleasing and ever popular Symphony 29.”

To read the whole review in click here.