For their first concert of 2015 the APO chose to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War – but in a slightly different way. The works included Elgar’s famous Cello Concerto and Vaughan Williams’ Symphony number 3, A Pastoral Symphony, both works composed as a response to the war. However, the opening item was the world premiere of the APO Young Composers Award commission.
Composed on the theme of ‘change,’ Revolution by Jenni Pinnock was a musical journey of climate change from an atmospheric point of view. Musical ‘molecules’ appeared throughout the orchestra which increased and intensified to reflect the Earth’s rising temperature. Sounding not dissimilar to a film score, the work was dissonant but not in an unpleasant way.
The repetitive motion of the machinery that contributed to climate change was portrayed in a vivid and hypnotic way. The music ended with a hopeful motif, highlighting the positive efforts being made to halt global warming.
It was an intelligent and effective composition.
The Elgar started very calmly and the cellist, Mark Walkem, produced a lovely clear tone. In the more intense passages the music was passionate but not overly dramatic. In the famously fast section the soloist was nimble and virtuosic but without being too showy. The orchestration of the concerto suggests the intimacy of chamber music rather than a large orchestral work and the orchestra produced a warm, unified sound, bringing out the more reflective side of the work. This was entirely appropriate as the concerto was Elgar’s response to his experience of war.
Vaughan Williams’ Symphony Number 3 was written as a reflection on his experiences in France during the war.
Rather than writing programme notes Andrew Taylor, the conductor, addressed the audience to explain the story of the symphony. This interaction with the audience always makes an APO concert special.
The music was simply beautiful, in turn melancholy and uplifting. The luscious harmonies and poignant solos were performed with great expression from the various sections of the orchestra. Extra special features included an ethereal, off-stage soprano solo from Karen Speight and a valveless trumpet solo reminiscent of a bugle call.
As ever, Andrew Taylor brought out the best in his orchestra who played with full commitment, obvious enjoyment and great passion.
The Concert Hall is a beautiful venue for a concert and the APO will return there next January with another Young Composers commission.
Their next concert is at Reading Blue Coat school on Saturday, May 16. The programme is Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, Copland’s El Salon Mexico, Barber’s Knoxville Summer of 1915 and Copland’s Appalachian Spring.
For more details, log on to APO’s website.
Image used is ©www.battlefield-tours.com and was the APO’s official publicity image for this concert.
Article updated Saturday, January 2, 9.20am – review was written by Judith Creighton, not Phil. Apologies for confusion.