17 November, Petersfield Festival Hall
The 96th season of the Petersfield Orchestra opened with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture. The performance was characterised by well-sustained climaxes, and precise fast rhythmic passages featuring impressive playing from percussion and timpani. I especially enjoyed the finely tuned woodwind playing in their ‘chorale-like’ passage towards the end.
This was followed by Alexander Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto – a tour-de-force for soloist Lucy Humphris. In one continuous movement, it demands a wide instrumental and dynamic range, passages of reflective lyricism alternate with energetic passages of rhythmic vitality, culminating in a virtuosic cadenza. Lucy met all these demands with apparent ease – never sacrificing musicality for sheer bravura, exceptional musicianship was on display here, and the enthusiastic audience response she received was well deserved.
The concert concluded with Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony. As with the earlier overture it was clear that this orchestra had been well rehearsed. Their full-bodied string sound served the climactic moments of the first movement very well as did some very sonorous brass playing, and in the second movement I was particularly struck by the quality of the solo woodwind playing. The pizzicato playing in the third movement was very neat and the interaction between the various sections of the orchestra in the movements central section was well judged, with antiphonal playing between horns, and trumpets and trombones was effective and impressive. A rousing performance of the 4th movement brought this excellent concert to a rousing conclusion.
This most enjoyable concert was conducted with authority and restrained clarity by Robin Browning.