Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Concert, performed on Tuesday, September 25, St Paul’s Church, Honiton. Review by Roger Hendy

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Last week saw the welcome return of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to St Paul’s Church, Honiton.

Under its recently appointed young conductor, Maxime Tortleier with violinist, Jack Liebeck a very appreciative and almost capacity audience was treated to a rich programme of familiar classics played by this highly professional ensemble.

Born into a musical family, Maxime Tortelier studied at the Ecole Normale Superieure and has taught at Harvard and in Paris. He completed his studies of music theory and composition at the Paris Conservatoire.

Monsieur Tortelier brought a number of fresh and interesting nuances to a familiar classical programme for this particular concert. Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll opened the concert played by the orchestra and was played with great artistry, subliminal pianissimos and warmth befitting this most magical piece.

Usually played with larger forces, this chamber performance admirably captured the precious and tender nature of the score written by the composer as a Christmas present for his wife Cosima von Bulow (Liszt’s daughter) and the birth of their son, Siegfried.

The audience sapped up the richly tender emotional quality of the music, especially as the famous theme wined down to its peaceful conclusion.

The highly gifted violinist Jack Liebeck returned to East Devon and to present a truly sparkling and poised performance of the Third Violin Concerto by Mozart.

Written for strings, oboes and horns, the reduced orchestra sympathetically supported the soloist to form a perfect balance as Jack Liebeck played with great sensitivity, precision and panache. Playing on a Guadagnini violin dated 1785, his performance added great warmth, character and charm to this perfect concerto.

The final movement with pizzicato those magical string interludes were beautifully presented. The richly scored cadenzas were delivered with considerable expertise and aplomb with wonderfully contrasting tone.

Jack Liebeck and the orchestra received a longs and well-deserved ovation. The ever-popular Serenade for Strings by Elgar was played with great attention to Elgar’s markings but how I longed for the elegiac quality of the famous Larghetto to linger on. It is surely one of the most expressive examples of early scores by Elgar and no doubt the piece great lingering influence on the beautiful slow movements in his symphonies that were to follow later in his career.

The famous ‘Italian’ symphony by Mendelssohn completed the concert. It certainly started with a bang as we were launched into the first movement with considerable frenzy so much so that in some passages the performance might be construed as being a trifle over-exuberant. The tempo was just under the classification of ‘rushed’ and there was certainly no breathing room for Mendelssohn’s elegant phrases particularly for the woodwind. The second movement traditionally is often given a minimalist performance in contract to the outer fast movements and as such serves as a most welcome contrast. Here again one felt the established tempo was slightly rushed and therefore the long rather distant motif played so eloquently by the violas and oboe was lost. The third movement, Con moto moderato, was distinctly one in a bar and the shape of the long rising violin passages possibly were possibly slightly masked the woodwind and particularly the horns were on top form in the middle section. As if this wasn’t enough, Mendelssohn plunges into the final movement written in the style of tarantella. Here, the sense of excitement the conductor wishes to portray was not lost as the movement flashed by with almost reckless abandon. The playing of the second violins was most pronounced in the fabulous fugal string writing as the orchestra gradually wound up to a sparkling and dramatic conclusion.

This was such an enjoyable and refreshing concert. Let’s hope it will not be too long before we see this fine orchestra back in East Devon twixt its concert series in Exeter and elsewhere. The BSO continues to be at the forefront of the UK orchestral scene and serves as a great ambassador for this part of world. Bravo BSO!

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