On Fine Form
Jeremy Hagan and the Derby Concert Orchestra
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER
It's not every orchestra that can boast an experienced opera and concert singer in its viola section (Derby Concert Orchestra, St Osmund's Church, Derby, UK, 13 October 2007). Step forward bass Jeremy Hagan, whose rich, dark tone projected a compelling portrait of the torment and defiance of Wagner's Flying Dutchman in the monologue 'Die Frist ist um'. This followed a vigorous, stormy account of the opera's overture.
From one anguished operatic seaman to another. Completing the concert's maritime first half were the Four Sea Interludes from Britten's Peter Grimes. DCO's performance was particularly strong on the uneasiness of 'Moonlight' and the menace permeating the final 'Storm'.
After the interval we were in Central European fairy-tale territory, which means a strong element of the macabre and ghoulish. After a vivid performance of the overture to Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel came a reading of Dvorák's tone-poem The golden spinning-wheel that kept a firm grip on the music's narrative structure. Conductor Jonathan Trout told us that it was new to him and most of the orchestra, but his disclaimer was belied by a performance of remarkable conviction.
This was the orchestra's first appearance in St Osmund's Church, a building whose resonant acoustics are superb for singing, but were less kind to the orchestra on this occasion. Brass tended to swamp the rest in heavily scored passages, and timpani were inclined to be boomy. This led to some loss of detail, particularly noticeable in the Britten. A shame, because the orchestra was clearly on fine form otherwise.
Copyright © 25 October 2007
Mike Wheeler, Derby UK