Revew: Suffolk Youth Orchestra, Snape Maltings, August 9

The Suffolk Youth Orchestra, very recently returned from a successful tour of Spain, presented an interesting programme of orchestral pieces drawn from some of the less visited areas of the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century repertoire.

Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet is a severe test for any orchestra and if there was some hesitancy in the opening section one could also admire the accurate woodwind intonation. The big love tune did not quite hit the spot despite a good contribution from the cor anglais but the sombre ending was well controlled. The Mont Juic Suite of Catalan Dances, a joint composition by Benjamin Britten and Lennox Berkeley, was well played with a notable saxophone solo in the third piece.

The first half ended with the music written by Arthur Bliss in the mid 1930’s for the film Things to Come, based on the novel by HG Wells. The players captured the extrovert, rugged spirit of the music, especially in the well known finale and found a darker edge for the horrors of industrialisation and mechanised warfare.

Vaughan Williams’ first Norfolk Rhapsody steps back a generation from the troubled, brooding 30’s to the calm and certainties of rural Edwardian England as it opens to woodwind birdsong against floating strings. The atmosphere was perfectly captured and Florence Glanfield’s superbly controlled viola solo was a major contribution in the most satisfying performance of the evening.

Borodin’s Second Symphony, like so much of his music, was written in what spare time he could find from his work as a professional scientist. It is an energetic and atmospheric piece but occasionally betrays the circumstances of its composition. The players threw themselves wholeheartedly into the music and conductor Philip Shaw was, as throughout the evening, fully in control of the large forces and a perceptive shaper of line and balance.

This was a good concert and these gifted players played well but I have heard them play better, that extra �lan and sparkle just eluding them. Gareth Jones

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