The Orchestra of the Swan has always been a sparky band, full of genuine pleasure in its music-making and creating, merely through its body-language, an amazing rapport with audiences wherever it performs.
But last Wednesday it seemed to click even higher on the personality-scale, projecting with an in-your-face extra notch of confidence which drew us even further in to the music’s charmed world. The winds seemed particularly galvanised (implying no reservations about their previous performances), relishing specially the colours of Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’ Symphony, now sparkling, now seductive, and rising to the demands of the finale’s amazing counterpoint with brilliant success.
This was a totally satisfying account under the genial, smiling conducting of David Curtis, and one which made me, who worship Mozart on my knees, feel grateful for this revelatory reading.
Possibly the reason for this extra flow of adrenaline was the collaboration during this well-attended afternoon of Julian Lloyd Webber, soloist in Shostakovich’s busy and searing First Cello Concerto. This is a work which puts immense physical demands upon the hard-working cellist (never mind the technical challenges), but here there was never any sense of “look at me” from Lloyd Webber, but instead a totally committed integration with this heroic orchestra. They perform Shostakovich with relish, and with such a musicianly soloist the result was stunning. Special plaudits for David Garbutt’s ringingly sonorous French Horn contributions.
No soloist, no winds, and a complement of strings which might have been too puny for Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings? Not a bit of it: this was a delicately nuanced account of a work which gains in enchantment with every precious hearing, poised, crisply accented, and totally captivating.