Highly charged music from Leamington orchestra

Leamington Chamber Orchestra, Leamington town hall, September 30.

SMETANA, Dvořák, Barber and Brahms fuelled Leamington Chamber Orchestra’s 2012/13 season opener.

Eloquently shaped and highly charged with emotion, Smetana’s Sarka, the third of the composer’s six Má Vlast symphonic poems, started the event with huge leverage. Without waiting for the applause greeting his arrival, conductor Richard Laing launched into the violent opening with strong brass (newcomer Alison Wakeley making an impact) and delightful wind playing, particularly Bernard Sutton’s clarinet playing.

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Further newcomers making their marks throughout the afternoon included Rupert Swarbrick and Liz Flanagan on the first violin desk and Christine Griggs delivering a confident oboe contribution.

The strong brass section, which includes powerful tuba playing by Jason Cox, was highly visible. Not to be outdone, the string sections tackled Barber’s Adagio with some aplomb; then coped admirably with the grotesque story of Polednice. Among Bohemians a mythical female called Polednice is believed to be dangerous to women who had recently given birth. Dvořák suffered several child losses and the ‘noon-witch’ story, as it came to be known, made a huge impression on the composer. He depicts the characters vividly – from the idyllic opening scene of a woman preparing a noonday meal to the macabre witches dance.

LCO seems to get stronger and more capable with each new concert and the orchestra confidently tackled Brahms’s delightful Symphony No 4 in E minor. With the exception of some tempo loss, the build-up to the monumental last movement was characteristically smooth.

Clive Peacock

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