Cambridge out in force for Royal Philharmonic
29 Oct 2016
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is as good as it gets in the classical music world. A force to be reckoned with – older players exuding suave experience, ranks of young people and the debonair conductor Alexander Shelley looking like a lead from Mad Men -- the entire ensemble was impressively dashing on stage as they got ready to roll Friday for what was to be a memorable opening of the 30th Cambridge Classical Concert series.
And Cambridge had turned out in force at the Corn Exchange to hear them. They were not disappointed. Rossini’s William Tell overture is arguably one of the most spirited and delightful in the repertoire. The composer certainly could knock out a brilliant tune. The piece has atmosphere – the quiet calm of the Swiss mountains with peaceful grazing cattle, drama-rumblings in the mountains and then the fabulously familiar theme music for the Lone Ranger and other adventures.
Clearly in this wonderful narrative style, the hero has a good go at his oppressors whilst shivers of excitement run down the backs of those listening. No wonder Rossini retired at 35 to spend the proceeds of his hugely successful career.
Mendelssohn had only three years to live when he composed the next piece, a violin concerto performed by the divinely talented and beautiful Carolin Widmann. Something thrillingly familiar about the music transports the listener skillfully into the family idyll in the mountains where the composer was at last, briefly happy with his family.
Again the tingle factor was at play as Widmann’s energy powered the music with intense feeling. She took four curtain calls. Can there have been any more truly romantic era for music than the early nineteenth century?
Complex longing and pathos from Mendelssohn, passionate heroics from Rossini and if the second half was more twentieth century complex, Sibelius’ 2nd symphony, a powerful counterweight to the lucid certainties of the early concert.
It’s 30 years since this series began, and they promise this one is 'set to be our biggest and most exciting to date.' Indeed the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is to return two more times in January and June, and in between comes the likes of the renown Czech National Symphony Orchestra, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, The European Union Chamber Orchestra, the Mosow Philharmonic and an Alison Balsom Recital. Fine company indeed.