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The second half started with Winter Song, a commission from the Tapiola Sinfonietta and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. This is another piece which builds organically, but in this one Weir gave herself the task of giving each member of the orchestra a brief solo moment. The result is a curiously wintry piece which never quite achieves the radiance that Sibelius achieves in his comparable works. But, judging by Weir's other music, this sort of satisfying resolution was not what she wished to achieve.
The final orchestral work was another tone poem, The Welcome Arrival of Rain, in which Weir depicts the gradual gathering of the monsoon storm in the heat of India. She uses tom-toms and other drums to gradually build up the tension. The result was well achieved, but at seventeen minutes long it seemed to slightly outstay its welcome.
Between these two orchestral works we had another folk moment; this time Scottish concertina virtuoso Simon Thoumire and pianist David Milligan. They took less time to warm up and Thoumire gave us some spectacularly virtuoso concertina playing.
Conductor André de Ridder conducted the orchestral parts of the evening with aplomb and seemed to be very well at home in Weir's music. It was only a shame that the Barbican Hall seemed rather underpopulated, though the BBC could hope for a bigger audience for the broadcast on Radio 3.
Copyright © 22 January 2008
Robert Hugill, London UK