Review: Timothy Keasley and Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra, Pittville Pump Room
GLOUCESTERSHIRE'S Young Musician of 2012 was the star of this concert.
Playing the Vaughan Williams Concerto for Oboe and Strings, Timothy Keasley communicated with ease the capriciousness and lyricism of this light-hearted work.
The rhapsodic opening theme gave way to a whimsical dance-like melody in the folk tradition which provoked a lively response from the strings. The second movement harked back to 18th century dance forms although the idiom was distinctly 20th century.
Perhaps the most interesting movement was the finale with its frequent changes of rhythm creating several surprises.
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Described as a Scherzo there was plenty of banter between soloist and orchestra, but there were a number of slow passages too which enabled Timothy to display his sensitivity as a player in addition to his agility in the faster parts.
Though Vaughan Williams composed the Concerto during the Second World War, the other two works on the programme were far darker in mood.
Brahms did not like the nickname given to his 'Tragic' Symphony, but a cloud certainly hovers over it.
The performance got off to a heavy start – the Pump Room is not large enough to accommodate an orchestra at full stretch – but later there were moments of sheer beauty as high drama gave way to a mood of calm.
The fate motif which dominates Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony was introduced subtly by conductor David Curtis, while the following themes were built up into tense climaxes.
The slow movement with its extended horn solo created a sense of wistful nostalgia, and the waltz of the third movement seemed to take us into the great outdoors thanks to lively contributions from the woodwind.
The finale was a contest between light and dark but light eventually prevailed to transform the fate theme into one of triumph.