4:01pm Monday 25th February 2013
By Geraint Davies
For their latest series of concerts the C.P.O. chose a programme of three of the most popular works from the late Romantic repertoire. The composers featured were Sibelius and Dvorak and every bar seemed a reflection of their love of their respective countries.
They were joined by young cellist Steffan Morris for the Dvorak concerto. This was a thoughtful performance that highlighted the works wonderful lyricism and coped well with its virtuosic demands. However there were problems of balance at times and the soloist was occasionally lost in the orchestral texture. Excellent contributions were heard from solo violin, flute and timpani. Elsewhere there were some nervous and shaky moments in the accompaniment.
Conductor Michael Bell also acted as a genial host, providing background before each piece.
The orchestra was at its best in two works by Sibelius. They opened with ‘Finlandia’ and in the second half performed the second symphony. Here the bleak Finnish landscape was well portrayed in Sibelius’ highly individual orchestral language. This was particularly evident in the stark second movement with its double bass pizzicato and brooding bassoons.
The scurrying strings in the third movement scherzo and a more pastoral interlude eventually led to the majesty of the final movement. Here was music that was unambiguously optimistic and looked forward to a better future for the Finnish people at the turn of the twentieth century. The players relished this outpouring and brought matters to a magnificent conclusion.
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