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A Rousing Send-off

Nicholas Kok's last concert as
Principal Conductor of Sinfonia Viva,
enjoyed by MIKE WHEELER


This [Assembly Rooms, Derby UK on 19 April 2006] was Nicholas Kok's last concert as Sinfonia Viva's Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser, and they gave him a rousing send-off.

It was also the latest instalment in Viva's Beethoven piano concerto cycle with Ian Fountain. As on previous occasions, Beethoven's 4th Concerto was paired with an early concerto by Mozart, No 5. The Mozart was bright and stylish, but it was the Beethoven that really held everyone's attention. Fountain has plenty of strength and agility for the more athletic passages, but it was his mesmerising way with the quiet music that really had us on the edge of our seats. The solo opening didn't so much start as emerge from the preceding silence, and there was some breathtakingly delicate playing later.

Ian Fountain. Photo © Nikki Gibbs
Ian Fountain. Photo © Nikki Gibbs

The overture to Rossini's The Italian Girl in Algiers started the concert, fizzing with energy and full of sly wit -- the quiet pizzicato opening sounded positively conspiratorial. A delightfully fresh, lively performance of Schubert's 3rd Symphony ended the evening, relaxed and amiable in the second movement, spirited and vigorous in the third, while the outer ones crackled with energy.

The good news is that Kok stays on as Principal Guest Conductor, and indeed returns for a concert with Viva in two months' time.

Copyright © 26 April 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK





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