Photo taken and reproduced with permission from Lennard Ruehle
After a fascinating talk by James Williams, Managing Director of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the orchestra gave a splendid concert in Cambridge Corn Exchange on Saturday.
Conducted by Alexander Shelley, these highly talented musicians performed with rich, expressive precision while never missing an opportunity to bring out the most subtle nuances and dramatic intensity of the pieces.
The concert opened with Rossini’s ‘William Tell Overture”. It is only when you hear an orchestra of this calibre play this very popular work live that you realize the work’s full musical potential. With pinpointed intonation and timing, incredible speed and smoothness of articulation these instrumentalists gave this composition new life so that we could easily forget the hackneyed versions we have all heard before.
Then the violin soloist, Carolin Widmann, entered the stage to perform Mendelssohn’s ‘Violin Concerto’. Her breathtaking performance wowed the audience. With real virtuosic flair, sonorous depth and an affinity with the poignant beauty of the themes, she worked sensitively with the orchestra to create meaningful dialogues, while constantly maintaining a sense of excitement and pathos. It was no surprise that as she ended the piece she was met with rapturous applause and time and time again she was called back to the stage for more.
Her Bach encore was a delight.
The final piece for the concert was the second symphony by Sibelius. After an interesting account of the background to this piece by the conductor, again this orchestra performed superbly. The conductor and the instrumentalists revelled in the music, exploring perfectly the constant flow of musical ideas, carving delightful moments of contrast, or sudden changes of mood and unexpected harmonies.
This was indeed a splendid first concert for this season for the Cambridge Classical Concert Series. It is no wonder that this orchestra’s next concert in the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Saturday 21st January 2017 featuring the music of John Williams is already sold out!