Review: Ipswich Orchestral Society, Summer Concert, Corn Exchange, June 29

Chloë Hanslip; who performed with the Ipswich Orchestral Society

Chloë Hanslip; who performed with the Ipswich Orchestral Society - Credit: Archant

For their summer concert the Ipswich Orchestral Society turned to Russia and what better opener than the sparkling overture to Russlan and Ludmilla by Mikhail Glinka, the composer who, in this opera, laid the foundations of the Russian national style. The players clearly relished exuberant orchestration and Tom Rumbold was right on the mark with his important timpani role.

Chloë Hanslip

Chloë Hanslip - Credit: Archant

After an unhappy debut (not unknown for works of exceptional quality or originality, and from every genre) Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto soon established itself as a favourite with performers and public. The solo part contains passages of exceptional technical demands and bravura along with moments of lyrical delicacy and Chloe Hanslip embraced all the musical riches with a performance of outstanding technique and artistry. Her tone, strong and sweet, was comfortably audible, even in the most strenuous passages, and she perfectly captured the reflective simplicity of the slow movement. The orchestra played their part too, the opening tutti clean and elegant and the shifting harmonies as the slow movement moved into the finale were accurately negotiated.

For me, the best concerts always have an element of education or surprise – something one has not heard or appreciated before. This may result from the performance itself or, as here, as a result of a few well-chosen words from the rostrum. In the Steppes of Central Asia is a short, ostensibly slight work and easy to overlook, but Adam Gatehouse set the work in a clear context and the performance gained considerably as a result.

After another thoughtful introduction, Gatehouse conducted the orchestra in Rachmaninov’s last major work, the Symphonic Dances. It is a serious challenge for any orchestra and conductor and players earned themselves immense credit with this performance. The sinister second movement waltz had real menace and there was plenty of tension as the violas began pushing the finale towards its denouement. The orchestra always plays well, but on this occasion every individual seemed to be having a good evening and it was perhaps significant that although there were some seductive wind solos (to take only one example) the conductor did not single out any player in particular but gave them all generous applause. Quite right, every player contributed splendidly and once again Adam Gatehouse demonstrated his excellence with the baton.

Gareth Jones

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