Last weekend’s anniversary-celebrations concluded in Malvern: 35 years of the resourceful Chandos Symphony Orchestra, 25 years that it has had the musicianly insights of Michael Lloyd as its principal conductor, and 20 years of its Young Musician Competition.
There was also the incidental matter of the bicentenaries of the births of Verdi and Wagner (just as well their aspirations to jostle each other as the world’s greatest operatic composer were foiled by the unassailable Mozart), and their music provided us with a delicious programme which absentees should be kicking themselves to have missed.
Chandos were taut and lively, winds well-chorded, in Verdi’s La Forza del Destino Overture, and did their best for the absurd Macbeth ballet music, with deftly-tongued brass and a beautifully-delivered flute decoration.
Julian Close’s baleful, commanding bass tones and natural sense of line were perfectly suited to an aria from one Verdi’s greatest operas, Simon Boccanegra, his cavernous, sepulchral registers combining with venomous consonants and hooded eyes to make him a fearsome Hunding in Act One of Wagner’s Die Walkure.
For once one could understand this man’s hatefulness, as his wife Sieglinde displayed an unusual flirtatiousness and determination as she invited a wayfaring stranger into their home. Lee Bissett, her recent Longborough performances so memorable, brought so much to this rewarding role, body - and eye-language allied to a huge voice which never lost beauty of tone and sensitivity of phrasing. And John Llewelyn Evans as Siegmund responded magnificently, properly heroic, his singing reflecting the redemption and salvation he has found in his long-lost twin sister.