Concert on Sunday 20th July 2003
Peel Hall, Salford University
Conductor Barrie McKinnon
Leader Jon Henderson
Soloist The Aquarelle Guitar Quartet
Bizet Carmen Suites No 1 & 2
Rodrigo Concierto Andaluz (Soloists: Aquarelle Guitar Quartet)
Tarantella Arr. Inti-Illimani
De Falla Ritual Fire Dance
Yradier La Paloma
John Snow (Cor Anglais)
I had been really looking forward to this programme for some time – and wasn’t really disappointed with the result.
We started quite strongly with a solid performance of Carmen 1 – some excellent playing here, rhythmic and bold when required, yet with some really subtle touches from everyone. Flutes shone throughout this suite as well as some really warm and vibrant string playing. This gave us the platform from which to launch the Rodrigo.
I was very pleased with the Concierto Andaluz – an engaging piece, superbly interpreted by the Aquarelle Quartet and very well supported by the orchestra. Credit must go to all here, but especially the strings – who coped with stamina-sapping rhythms for great chunks of the concerto. The quality of Aquarelle was outstanding and we really must try to work with them again. Certainly the audience enjoyed the performance and all sections coped well with the little technical difficulties that presented themselves.
The Falla worked well, although I would have liked to have turned the accelerator up a little from the word go! The piece is not one of his best and really needs a slightly quicker feel than I thought we were able to produce – but at least we got most of the notes in! The brass certainly played well in this item and lent a little aggression to outweigh the problems with the tempo.
La Paloma, like the Falla, could have been a little quicker but it benefited from greater accuracy and more expression. There could easily have been a tendency to lose concentration a little here, but we kept going well with some attractive woodwind playing (especially from Martin) and some really pleasant tone quality from firsts and seconds.
Carmen 2 was, for me anyway, better played than the first suite and the orchestra revelled in some strong and exciting rhythms. Percussion and brass combined to provide the excitement and woodwind and strings providing a depthof tone that was exceptional in places. The horns excelled in this suite with some excellent ensemble playing.
España was, perhaps, a ‘bridge too far’ this time. We could have easily got away without playing this – in terms of concert duration, but I certainly wanted to do it. In the end it was played far better than we could or should have expected – given that we sight-read it at the rehearsal – so we should be relived and happy. The audience certainly enjoyed it! España is a classic example of the piece we have all heard, but don’t realise how difficult it really is. It was certainly bright and rhythmic enough, but lacked a little in terms of confidence and, in places, accuracy. In fairness this was entirely due to the lack of rehearsal. John had been all over the place trying to get a different version to the one we got originally – which just goes to show how difficult the librarian’s job is most of the time. However, I do think we must re-think the policy of getting the music sequentially over the rehearsal period, irrespective of the additional cost incurred by getting it ALL at the start. If we get it all at the beginning then we can accommodate unforeseen problems in rehearsal and individuals can take copies for their own practice.