Lloyd-Webber ensures full house

Ipswich Orchestral Society: Summer Concert featuring Julian Lloyd-Webber, The Corn Exchange, Ipswich; June 28 Concert going is something of a lottery: you don't know if it is going to be any good until it is too late to avoid it.

Ipswich Orchestral Society: Summer Concert featuring Julian Lloyd-Webber, The Corn Exchange, Ipswich; June 28

Concert going is something of a lottery: you don't know if it is going to be any good until it is too late to avoid it. Fortunately, on this occasion, I very soon knew that I was on to a winner.

From the restrained opening of the Overture from Prince Igor, by Borodin, it was clear that the entire orchestra was on fine form. There were some lovely solo passages from the woodwind and brass. French horn player David Smith, in particular, deserves a mention for his beautiful mellow tones throughout the evening and the strings were, in turn, scintillating and lyrical.

I would guess that Julian Lloyd Webber was responsible for this concert being a sell-out. He was as one would expect of this well-known cellist and clearly pleased his following. Tchaikovsky's attractive Variations on a Rococo Theme is a perfect showpiece for Lloyd Webber's talents and he dramatically emphasized the extravagant cadenzas. This performance played with empathetic accompaniment from the IOS was taken from Tchaikovsky's original composition which has recently been revived.


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As a salute to Suffolk, Lloyd Webber played the unaccompanied pizzicato Serenata from the Cello Suite No 1 by Benjamin Britten.

For me, the main attraction on the programme was Symphony No.10 in E minor, Opus 93 by Shostakovich. This is a challenging work and not something to be undertaken lightly.

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Conductor Adam Gatehouse wisely introduced the symphony with a valuable explanation of the work written in 1953, just after Stalin's death, as Shostakovich looked back over the dreadful years he and his fellow countrymen had endured. Adam stated that the four movements could be depicted as Fear, the Dictator's brutality, Irony and then Humour (maybe macabre, resulting from extreme terror) but culminating in the triumph of survival.

The fear was almost palpable in first movement with a long drawn out building of tension, repetitive phrases and instruments playing at the extremes of their range. The brutality of the second movement, a personification of Stalin, was manifest by every instrument sounding like relentless, inexorable clanging machinery and underscored by violent fortissimo percussion. Its terrifying impact was mercifully short lived, but all the more potent for that.

IOS are fortunate in having the excellent Adam Gatehouse, but it is a two-way partnership and between them they gave an awe-inspiring performance.

Judith Newman

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