Bromsgrove once more celebrates the joys of spring and the arts with its welcome annual Festival and variety of fringe events.
A feast of Mendelssohn gems marked the 200th anniversary of his death at the young age of 38. His output was prodigious, enhancing the world with a captivating variety of exquisite masterpieces.
The English Symphony Orchestra was less than 40 strong, with most players being exposed in the dry uncompromising acoustic. However, conductor Adrian Partington could have been more adventurous with dynamics, particularly in the familiar Hebrides overture, although the sea did eventually attempt to overwhelm.
Characteristically busy string parts in the Italian symphony were clear, precise and exciting although the second movement appeared more prosaic, with lower strings chuffing away at a somewhat less comfortable tempo than the depicted pilgrims might walk. Woodwinds and horns were well balanced, leading once more to high spirits from all in a vivacious final movement.
Nightmare-to-gauge opening woodwinds in A Midsummer Night’s Dream overture were a delight: spot on and with perfect intonation, a magical performance dancing with effervescence and humour.
One suspects that the two programme halves were changed around as, curiously, the final offering was the Violin Concerto, with young Russian soloist Dunja Lavrova. From her very first entry it was obvious that this young woman had the notes under her fingers, but cared little for the sound they produced, being of a hard-edged quality for the most part. Underlying filigree accompanying from the violin in the finale gave scant regard to solos from within the orchestra, however double stopping was accurate elsewhere as were harmonics, but Mendelssohn’s tender loving care was disappointingly absent throughout.