Review: Havant Symphony Orchestra – “East Meets West”

Stuart Reed writes:

Many musicians in the Havant Symphony Orchestra performed outstandingly at their concert at Oaklands School, Waterlooville, on Saturday 1st of December. But, without doubt, the stars of the show were Dinara Klinton and Stefano Boccacci.

Not exactly from opposite ends of the globe, Dinara and Stefano came from far enough apart: she from near the Black Sea and he from the Andes.

Dark haired and eye-catchingly attractive, Ukrainian pianist Dinara Klinton, dazzled the audience with her rendition of Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G.

Ravel was once described as a crusty Basque; which sounds like something you’d buy in a French baker’s shop. It’s no coincidence that his piano concerto sounds more than a little like the music of George Gershwin. When the two met in New York in 1928, a mutual admiration developed. Gershwin asked to study under Ravel but Ravel’s retort was “Why would you want to be a second-rate Ravel when you can be first-rate Gershwin?”

Be that as it may, Dinara conquered the hard-to-perform concerto. Her deft and energetic playing even outshone her glittering sequin-studded outfit. She gave a virtuosa performance which delighted the audience.

Mention has to be made of Gerry Salway’s excellent work in carefully tuning the school’s Steinway piano. He and a friend spent years restoring this, once derelict, instrument. Even now it’s susceptible to changes in temperature so Gerry gave it a tender tweak or two just before the concert.

Stefano Boccacci comes from Bogota, Colombia. He is the current Bob Harding Bursary Holder. Already an experienced musician, he is sharpening up his conducting skills with the help of Jonathan Butcher and the HSO.

Every inch the modern Conquistador, on the rostrum Stefano’s baton moves with easy grace like a sharpened blade. A likeable fellow, Stefano is already popular with the orchestra. He certainly took charge of Gustav Holst’s Somerset Rhapsody. The folk songs within the piece came to life with delightful clarity and the rumbustious yokels’ marching passages had real depth to them.

Under the baton of Jonathan Butcher, Sir Edward Elgar’s arrangement of Handel’s overture in D minor, made the audience sit up and take notice. It was an inspired opening piece and the orchestra enjoyed playing it too.

The concert’s finale was no less enjoyable than the preceding works. Nearly eighty players were on the stage and each one had a crucial part to play. Ralph Vaughan Williams’ A London Symphony is full of clever stuff portraying life in the capital. The four movements are very different. Jonathan Butcher worked the orchestra hard in rehearsals but this effort certainly paid off. The audience’s applause said it all. Deservedly, the woodwind, brass and percussion received a special ovation for their efforts.

In her post-performance email, Barbara Martin, the HSO Manager, thanked several guest players for their valuable help. These included Zoe Hunting and Amanda Berry (cellos), Lyndon Wall and Chris Ide (double basses) and Kate Ham (harp). Barbara described the concert as “most satisfying”. And so it was.

Go to the concert page.

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