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A Deft Touch

Mendelssohn and Kurt Weill from Sinfonia Viva,
with no complaints from MIKE WHEELER


Sinfonia Viva's latest Derby concert (Assembly Rooms, Derby, UK, 22 April 2009) was another imaginative contribution to the Mendelssohn celebrations -- an almost complete performance of his Midsummer Night's Dream score (just the vocal music and the Act 3 Melodrama missing). Pairing it with Kurt Weill's Second Symphony was a bold move, too.

This opened the concert, in a taut reading that nevertheless found time to explore its more lyrical side. The second movement's opening motif was not quite as incisive as some performances I've heard, and though it built to a powerful climax, the overall feel was more sorrowing than ominous. Though the playing was not always absolutely tidy, the finale had plenty of spirit, with a defiantly perky march tune and a determinedly rollicking conclusion.

For the Mendelssohn the orchestra was joined by actor Steven Blakeley, who linked the musical items with relevant passages from the play. While he projected the text to eloquent effect -- his account of Thisbe's final speech in the Mechanicals' play was genuinely comic -- this sometimes made a rather patchy impression, as we were whisked from one scene to another. Anyone who didn't know the play would have had trouble keeping up -- some form of linking narrative would have helped.

No complaints about the music itself, though. Under conductor André de Ridder the players produced some really ethereal fairy music in the overture; the Intermezzo was quick and genuinely agitated, while the March that followed, heralding the arrival of Bottom and his cronies, was nicely brisk -- these mechanicals were a confident bunch. The shorter pieces, some no more than a few bars, were slotted neatly into and around the spoken text with a deft touch.

Copyright © 5 May 2009 Mike Wheeler,
Derby UK









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Cadenza Programme Note Library - Programme Notes by Mike Wheeler