Review: Variety makes for an appealing start to the year for Beauchamp Sinfonietta

Clive Peacock reviews Beauchamp Sinf onietta, conducted by George Martin, at Holy Trinity church, Leamington
Members of Beauchamp SinfoniettaMembers of Beauchamp Sinfonietta
Members of Beauchamp Sinfonietta

Mozart’s reputation for working at a bafflingly rapid pace is best demonstrated in his 18-day turnaround of the music for La Clemenza di Tito, based on the drama by Pietro Metastasio, a well-known Italian poet and librettist.

With George Martin returning as guest conductor for the first time since 2021, Mozart’s 1791 overture to celebrate the Coronation of Emperor Leopold II was a secure introduction to a concert full of very different composers and their works.

Bassoonists David Brown and Paul Raybould excelled with majestic phrasing; new string players added to the crisp output in this reflection of the pomp and ceremony for which the opera was written.

Alexander Siloti’s arrangement of Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso Op 3 No 11 for full orchestra was fertile ground again for those bassoonists to share the limelight with two solo violins, before the full string sections responded well to Martin’s deliberate, fluent approach to leading, the largo a very mellifluous outcome.

The ‘Black Mahler’, the Sam Coleridge-Taylor story is a moving account of the composer’s struggles. His incidental music for the 1909 production of Othello was distilled to five movements for his Othello Suite with a lively opening ‘dance’, ‘children’s intermezzo’ with super clarinet playing by Vicki Bacon and equally memorable trumpet playing by Stewart Morris in ‘the willow song’. Oboeist Aoife Dudley deserved the recognition she was given by conductor Martin at the end of Cimarosa’s overture to his two act drama Giannina e Bernardone. Although very popular in his day, his works are seldom now heard.

This afternoon concert of distinct interventions from different composers reached a climax with works by Mendelssohn and Strauss. Conductor Martin put his own stamp on the afternoon with his smaller orchestral version of the Strauss favourite, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op 28. Condensed variations of works is not new, Mahler did the same thing with a couple of his symphonies. Beauchamp players clearly enjoyed illustrating the lively exploits of the practical joker with the Eb clarinet creating the required the cheekiness of this knave.

Some clever programming helped this orchestra deliver a fine first outing of 2024.

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