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Highly Promising

Rossini, Schubert and Beethoven
from the Derby Concert Orchestra,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


Derby Concert Orchestra has settled into a pattern of reserving the classical and early romantic side of their repertoire for the tricky acoustic of St Peter's Church in the Derby UK suburb of Littleover, where more richly scored music would tend to sound muddy.

On this occasion (1 March 2008), they opened with the overture to Rossini's The Barber of Seville. At first I thought the performance needed a bit more comic verve. But then I wondered if there wasn't an interesting point to be made here, given that the overture derived, as the programme observed, from two entirely serious earlier operas. If the piece is so adaptable, should a concert performance take account of this fact or ignore it? Or does it simply remind us that music is infinitely more subtle than our attempts to attach concrete images to it try to make out?

After the Rossini came Schubert's Symphony No 8, or rather the two-movement torso we have come to accept. Conductor Jonathan Trout set a rather steady tempo for the first movement, but the music's architecture was compellingly laid out, with no loss of intensity. I am, though, becoming more and more convinced that the work needs the other two movements -- the scherzo as begun by Schubert, in the completed edition by either Gerald Abraham or Brian Newbould, and the B minor Rosamunde Entr'acte which may or may not have been the intended finale, but was played as such at, for example, the English première in 1867.

For Beethoven's Violin Concerto the orchestra was joined by Jonathan Martindale. Currently in his fourth year at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, he is a highly promising soloist with much to say about the music he plays. His first entry was unassuming but had plenty of presence, and while there were some intonation problems in the first movement, both this and the second movement were engrossing. The transition to the finale lost a little of its focus, however, and the finale itself needed a degree more momentum. But Martindale is clearly a soloist to watch.

Copyright © 24 March 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK



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