The reporter reserves the right to have an opinion, to refrain from commenting on the difficulty of music she hasn?t played and to use the words ?tight?, ?energetic? and ?interesting? without molestation. She would also like to point out that, though it is possible she is not a real musician, she is Chair of two College musical societies and plays a number of instruments. Please bear this in mind before criticising said reporter.
***END OF DISCLAIMER***
Tuesday night gave us the second excellent orchestral performance in College in a week. Sinfonietta?s first concert of the term featured some wonderful performances of some great twentieth century music.
The concert began with On the Town: Three Dances Episodes by Leonard Bernstein. Anyone who knows this reporter well will know that the man who wrote West Side Story can do no wrong in her eyes, so it was great to hear a good performance of some of his work. For those who don?t know, On the Town follows the story of three sailors on 24 hour shore leave in New York, trying to get drunk and get the girl. The brass section was excellent, especially the trombones; really capturing the jazziness of the piece from the very beginning. While this reporter felt it took a little while for the rest of the orchestra to really get into the showy, exuberant feel of the piece, there was some lovely playing by the strings in the second movement and the third movement (?New York, New York, it?s a wonderful town??) was fantastic. Special mention should go to the clarinet, trumpet and trombones (again) for really capturing the mood.
The second piece was Shostakovich?s Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring a wonderful performance by medic and soloist Mark Peterzan. The first movement, a light hearted march, opened with some nice wind playing. Although perhaps they could have been more sympathetic in their accompaniment, there was a great deal of energy from all the orchestra that made the movement very enjoyable to listen to. Some beautiful, tender piano was a highlight in the second movement, accompanied by some sensitive string playing. The pizzicato section was on the whole pulled off well, being mostly together and surprisingly lyrical for plucked strings. The third movement featured some sparkling playing from Mark, and was a great end to the first half.
The second half gave us more Shostakovich; the Symphony No. 12 in D minor ?The Year 1917?. Commissioned as a piece of Soviet propaganda but featuring subversive musical messages from the composer, the piece is very emotional and very dramatic, a feel that the orchestra portrayed well. Although the start was a little messy, this was more than made up for by some very exciting playing, particularly from the array of percussionists that had appeared during the interval. In another string pizzicato section you could have heard a pin drop, and unfortunately a little later we did hear a mobile phone (anyone want to own up?). Luckily this interruption didn?t kill the drama, and the piece finished with a stirring ending that was a fitting end to a great evening.