Alexander Shelley at Sinfonia Viva's helm,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER
With André de Ridder recently taking up his new job as Sinfonia Viva's Principal Conductor, the orchestra has also been forging a relationship with Alexander Shelley, first prizewinner in the Leeds Conductors' Competition, 2005 (Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham UK, 7 November 2007).
The two completed movements of Schubert's Symphony No 8 were given a performance marked by finely judged tempos that allowed a sense of drama to come across without unbalancing the overall emotional impact.
Ashley Wass joined the orchestra for a performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No 22 that combined grandeur and intimacy. In the first movement Wass' attention to subtle dynamic shadings was a delight, and the orchestral sound was both warm and clear. The second movement was marked by great tenderness, but in the third variation Wass invested his playing with an unexpected degree of strenuous vehemence. This carried over into the central episode of the finale, which felt as though it was being made to carry rather more emotional weight than it warranted. The rest of the movement felt a bit subdued, taking just a little of the shine off an otherwise beautifully scaled reading.
After the interval came Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, but in the composer's first version of 1830 as edited by Christopher Hogwood and published by Bärenreiter in 2004. While the impression remains that Mendelssohn was probably right to revise the work to produce the version we know today, it was fascinating to hear that well-known opening veering off into completely unknown music, and to recognise familiar phrases in unfamiliar contexts.
Beethoven's Eighth Symphony ended the concert in a dynamic reading full of driving energy, pert and dapper in the second movement, and with the finale surging along on a tide of irresistible momentum.
Copyright © 22 November 2007
Mike Wheeler, Derby UK
ROBERT HUGILL IN CONVERSATION WITH ASHLEY WASS