Exquisite playing for show pieces

Aldeburgh Festival. Britten- Pears Orchestra/ Manacorda, Snape Maltings, June 22. An eclectic mix of show pieces for orchestra, from the eighteenth to the twentieth century found the Britten-Pears Orchestra, under conductor Antonello Manacorda, for the most part in fine form for their Snape concert.

Aldeburgh Festival. Britten- Pears Orchestra/ Manacorda, Snape Maltings, June 22.

An eclectic mix of show pieces for orchestra, from the eighteenth to the twentieth century found the Britten-Pears Orchestra, under conductor Antonello Manacorda, for the most part in fine form for their Snape concert.

One of the more quirky trends of the early twentieth century avant-garde was the arrangement, or recomposition, of works by earlier composers.

Webern famously made arrangements of Strauss waltzes (as, incidentally did Berg and Schoenberg), but it was his recomposition of the Ricercare from Bach's A Musical Offering which began the evening. From the magical begining, where the trombone and harp state the opening subject, the orchestra responded with great sensitivity to Manacorda's conducting, producing a performance of great distinction Haydn's 90th symphony was not quite as successful, marred by the violin sound which did not project well.


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Still, the performance was lively enough, with the audience falling for Haydn's "joke" false ending not once, but twice. Maybe the odd arrangement of the strings in the first half, with basses behind the first violins, and cellos where the seconds normally sit - presumably because of the Webern - affected the acoustic, because after the interval the strings sounded splendid in the Bartok Divertimento.

Both in this, and in Ravel's exquisite Mother Goose Suite, Manacorda drew superb playing from these youthful musicians.

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Frank Cliff

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