Review: National Children's Orchestra (under 13s), at Birmingham Town Hall
Any orchestra beginning with Smetana, ending with Gershwin and performing a host of glitzy film music in between, evidently has ambition.
But from the very opening, the National Children’s Orchestra under 13’s showed that this ambition was not unfounded, with an immediately arresting sound.
The NCO – an organisation made up of five age-banded orchestras – is halfway through its summer season and Saturday’s concert completed their trilogy of public performances.
Expertly drilled in platform etiquette and oozing typical youth orchestra exuberance, the players tackled film scores by Goodwin and Korngold.
The 60-strong string section particularly impressed, demonstrating control of both tone and vibrato typified in Mathew Curtis’s Autumn Leaves by viola soloist Anna Semple.
The strings’ gusto, however, was at times ill-guided by conductor Roger Clarkson, as it often took quieter passages to really discover the woodwinds.
Nonetheless, Strauss’s Pizzicato Polka demonstrated that ambition was indeed the word of the day, as, in terms of musicianship, it is the absolute acid test.
Russell Bennett’s Porgy and Bess: A Symphonic Picture provided the opportunity for some precocious playing, featuring excerpts that make even hardened professionals go away and practise.
Considering the demands of the programme, the evening was truly impressive.