Review of Westmorland Orchestra Concert by Clive Walkley

Players and conductor were given a warm welcome as they assembled for the last concert in the current season. 

After the playing of the National Anthem, the concert got off to a firm start with Hindemith's colourful Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber. 

Hindemith's music is very much out of fashion at the moment and so it was good to be able to hear a live performance of one of the composer's best-known compositions.  

The work is not without its technical challenges but it was obvious that much work had gone into the preparation and there was some very impressive playing from all sections of the orchestra.

The strong percussion section (seven players in all) set the performance ablaze in the opening allegro and added colour throughout the remaining movements.

Richard Howarth's firm direction and carefully chosen tempi captured the spirit of each of the four movements in this highly colourful work.

Clarinet soloist, Jack Horrocks, gave a fine performance of Mozart’s famous Clarinet Concerto which followed the Hindemith. 

His tone was even throughout the instrument’s register and in the Adagio second movement, he produced a lovely legato line.

The orchestra responded with a sympathetic accompaniment, never overwhelming the solo part.

This was a stylish performance which captured the spirit of this glorious work.

Brahms’ genial Second Symphony concluded the concert.

Again, one felt that the work had been carefully prepared and there was much to admire in the performance. 

The opening of the first movement, where the thematic material is passed from lower strings to horns and then to woodwinds, set the mood perfectly and thereafter the playing sounded confident and controlled.

Cellos and violas shaped the second main theme of the first movement very effectively and the cellos sang through the opening theme of the slow movement with confidence.

Brahms makes big demands on woodwind and horns in this work, requiring careful listening and tuning on behalf of the players, and precise ensemble playing.

There were many sensitive solos and the horn section in particular sounded confident in their many exposed passages.

This concert was a very satisfactory end to the orchestra’s season, one that must have caused players and organising committee some concerns with the shadow of Covid hanging over all our lives.

Next season's programme of concerts is very exciting, featuring masterpieces including Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto and Beethoven's 9th Symphony, the "Choral."

Again, one hopes this will bring back a larger audience to support the dedication and enthusiasm of the fine local players who work tirelessly to bring great music to Kendal.