Sam Newson Centre Boston Sinfonia review

(November 26, 2011)

It was a small but appreciative audience that gathered in the Sam Newsom Music Centre on a foggy Sunday afternoon to hear Boston Sinfonia, conducted by Nigel Morley, in a concert of 18th century music, The concert began with a forerunner of the classical symphony a William Boyce Sinfonia, the overture for his Ode for the New Year 1756, and finished with a Mozart symphony. The Boyce was given a properly well-balanced performance in true Baroque style – the two outer movements marched and bounced along.

Rebecca Hewes was the soloist in the delightful and popular Haydn ‘Cello Concerto in C Major. The intimate setting of the Music Centre brought the soloist so close to her audience that all must have sensed her pleasure in performance, as she coped with the many virtuosic leaps and fast repeated notes that Haydn wrote for a fine performer of his time. There was real joy in passages where the ‘cello and orchestra follow one another in imitation and the slow movement was played with warmth and serenity.

After the interval we were transported to Elysium with Gluck’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits from his opera Orpheo. The prominent flute solo was played by Gill Walsh and the performance exuded the calm beauty it deserves  – no wonder it is so popular.

The final piece was not one of the well-known, often performed symphonies of Mozart but the relatively early No.33. There were very good programme notes for this concert – brief but very much to the point. So we knew where to place this work in relation to the great ones written later and to expect some connection with the comic opera of the time. And there it was! The joyful, ever more frantic and inventive last movement seems certain to have a triumphant close but Mozart gives us a joke – spare and quirky. We wanted more and a reprise gave us a chance to experience it again, this time full of anticipation.

This had been a very happy way to spend that dismal Sunday afternoon!


Brenda Lane                                                                                                                

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