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Exciting Times Ahead

Haydn, Beethoven and Judith Weir from Sinfonia Viva,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


Sinfonia Viva's relationship with its new Principal Conductor André de Ridder seems to be settling down nicely. The clarity and directness of the performances on this occasion (Assembly Rooms, Derby UK, 16 April 2008) suggest that there are exciting times ahead.

Haydn's Symphony No 83 got a performance full of crisp, rhythmic drive, and similar qualities characterised the account of Beethoven's Fourth Symphony that ended the evening. The slow introduction had a real sense of mystery, while the vigour and clarity of the playing ensured that the colours of Beethoven's orchestra emerged fresh and sparkling. In spite of one or two slightly shaky moments these were exhilarating performances.

In between, soloist Lauma Skride joined the orchestra for not one but two piano concertos. Judith Weir's is the characteristically concise, low-key work of a composer who rejects what she describes as 'the crashingly loud side of music'. Pianist and orchestra projected the work's luminous sound-world to excellent effect; they were particularly good at pointing up the contrasts between the sharper and the smoother textures of Weir's writing. Before the concert the composer gave an absorbing pre-concert interview with Lynne Walker of The Independent newspaper.

After the interval, Haydn's Piano Concerto in D was given a bright, alert reading, spellbinding in the second movement and playful in the gypsy-style finale.

Copyright © 29 April 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK



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