S&H Concert Review
Bedford; Tavener; Elgar etc London Mozart
Players/David Parry. Fairfield Halls, Croydon 21 10 00
Billed extravagantly as 'Celebrating 1000 years of British Music' the Fairfield Halls ambitious Millennium Music Day with 'something for everyone' (Artistic Director local percussionist, composer and energiser Brian Wilshere) culminated with Croydon's resident orchestra, which is soon commencing an affiliation with Blackheath Halls, giving what may euphemistically be described as a generous programme. There was nothing ancient or modern enough to alarm the small audience.
The concert was notable for an affectionate performance under David Parry of Elgar's Serenade for Strings, greatly enhanced by the warm acoustics of the Fairfield Hall, an under-rated concert venue, praised as 'world-class' by Sir John Tavener in the programme book. This made a signal contribution also to a very successful account of The Protecting Veil, a work not to hear too often!
Stephen Buck (left) is another new name to add to the lustrous roster of excellent young cellists before the public. Trained at the Purcell School & RCM, his manner eschews flamboyance and is contained yet pleasing. His tone seemed on the small side, but this had compensations in so long a work, as it drew the listener into its meditative aura and integrated the soloist within the orchestral strings. Stephen Buck's intonation was faultless in the cruelly high tessitura demanded by the composer, and with confident aplomb he sustained his concentration, and ours, over long stretches in slow tempi.
Two other soloists acquitted themselves well. Judith Busbridge did all that could be for a modest little piece by Christopher Wood, who should bury its title (Requiem for the Twentieth Century, no less) and its grandiose programme note immediately! David Bedford's peripatetic oboe concerto (with ad lib humming from the audience specified in its second slow movement) gave undemanding pleasure with Dominic Kelly as the wandering minstrel, but Brian Wilshere's protracted Alchemy (ancient alchemists kept their transmuting process a closely guarded secret) needs the advice of a best friend and help with a pair of shears to discover the nugget of a viable composition within its interminable, four-square variations.
Peter Grahame Woolf
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