REVIEW: Camerata wows York

Posted on February 8, 2010

Simon Fenton of The Yorker reviews Manchester Camerata’s recent concert in York.
The audience’s rapturous response to the concert is probably the best indicator of its success. The Camerata not only fulfilled the high expectations they faced, they surpassed them. This was one of the most enjoyable concerts that the season has so far had to offer.
On their first visit to York, the Manchester Camerata were preceded by a reputation many chamber groups can only long for. But would their performance live up to the high expectations?

The programme of music for string orchestra began with Holst’s St. Paul’s Suite. Originally written for his pupils at St. Paul’s School, Hammersmith, the Camerata’s performance reflected this; they played with youthful energy that really brought the piece to life. This was followed by Schubert’s Rondo in A major for Violin and Strings. Whilst the piece itself was met less-favourably by the audience than the Holst, soloist Adi Brett was adored; her beautiful playing mesmerised and delighted. The first half was brought to a close with Elgar’s Serenade for Strings. Although it is one of the most frequently played works in the string orchestra repertoire, the Camerata still managed to give a unique performance.

Sibelius’s Rakastava String Suite opened the second half. Originally a choral setting of folk poetry with a love theme, the composer later rewrote the suite for string orchestra. The beauty of the work is its lyrical quality, which the Camerata drew heavily upon, playing poignantly cantabile. Finally, the concert concluded with Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C major. He claimed “it poured from the heart”, and so did the Camerata’s performance. From the most gloriously sonorous passages to the scintillating magic of the third movement, the ensemble produced one of the best renderings of a piece the concert season has seen so far. It was an excellent end to the evening.”

Simon Fenton, The Yorker