The Chandos Symphony Orchestra is one which works miracles of achievement. Strictly amateur, it meets several times a year for only two weekends of rehearsal before performing some of the most demanding pieces in the repertoire, and attracts some of our greatest soloists to perform under the musicianly baton of the vastly-experienced Michael Lloyd.
But last Sunday’s concert proved disappointing in certain respects, with deficiencies which point more to tiredness than lack of technique. Intonation both from woodwinds and strings was occasionally suspect, and tone in the upper strings sounded under-nourished at times - not least in the huge exposure of Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony.
This prolix work (so many bits of it seem tacked on) demands constant concentration, mutual listening from every department of the orchestra, and biting articulation where necessary, and the Chandos responded selflessly (what fabulously choppy strings, and tight brass).
Lloyd was at his usually inspirational on the podium, pacing the piece to a conclusion of such satisfying stasis that we were all reluctant to applaud.
The first half was all French: a slightly fuzzy Chabrier Espana, a Debussy Prelude a l’Apres-Midi d’un Faune highlighted by wonderful flute-playing which conveyed a mystical mix of chaste eroticism, and Ravel’s Sheherazade.
Anne-Marie Owens was the communicative soloist in these monotonous settings which totally miss the point of the poet’s intention, which was to take an ironic dig at artificial touristic experience of the exotic.