Orchestra of the Swan * * * *
at Birmingham Town Hall
Review by Christopher Morley
At the end of Tuesday afternoon's concert from the Orchestra of the Swan, Simon Chalk, principal second violinist, personally thanked every member of his section, and this generosity of spirit sums up the whole warm-hearted atmosphere of this event.
David Curtis, OOTS conductor, encourages his players (a mix of the youthful and the vastly experienced) to listen to each other, and nowhere was this approach more vindicated than in the finale of Mozart's Jupiter Symphony.
In a public pre-concert conversation, Curtis and I agreed that Mozart could be trusted to balance his own textures in this glorious dis-play of contrapuntal technique, and the resulting performance was exhilarating. Earlier movements were lovingly shaped, with beautifully turned string filigree, and a clarity which was matched by the sunlight eventually streaming through the Town Hall's elegant windows.
Sarah Williamson was the soloist in Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, phrasing subtly nuanced, tempi perfectly set, and her ornamentation of melodic lines entirely in keeping with the operatic conventions of the period (from which Mozart was never far away).
Her tone was appropriately forward and rustic-coloured, and her stamina in the finale remarkable, though she shouldn't have blown out her cheeks in exhaustion at the end of her contribution. To keep playing on during the few extra bars with the orchestra is the secret.
Prokofiev's Classical Symphony was the bubbling pipe-opener to this much-enjoyed programme.