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Plenty of Atmosphere

A festive concert from the Derby Concert Orchestra
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


Derby Concert Orchestra abandoned the choir and audience carols of their previous December concerts for a selection of dance-related pieces. No-one seemed to mind, and it was still, on the whole, a good festive occasion (Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 1 December 2007).

The mix included four of Dvorák's Op 46 Slavonic Dances, in performances vigorous and atmospheric by turns; No 4 in particular had a good swing to the rhythm. The suite from Copland's Billy the Kid had a fine sense of the dramatic, with plenty of atmosphere in the 'Prairie Night' section. The balance between menace and glitter in Ravel's La Valse was finely judged, though the ending somewhat pulled its punch. Strauss' The Blue Danube was well played, but with some rather heavy-handed rubato.

The programme was an attempt at producing a concert in two exactly matching halves, and though the second half worked as a sequence, the first didn't. Khachaturian's Sabre Dance is not a piece to go into from cold at the start of a concert, but should have been placed later when everyone was nicely psyched up for it. Billy the Kid would have made a fitting end to the first half, but instead it was followed by The Blue Danube, which produced something of an anti-climax.

DCO threw in their usual seasonal encore, Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride, which they must almost be able to play from memory by now, and which always makes for a jolly ending on these occasions.

Copyright © 12 December 2007 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK



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