National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain review


Symphony Hall *****
After the resounding climax of Copland's third symphony had died away the conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto stepped forward to address the audience. His verdict on what we'd just heard was – "Wow!" Quite right too. The symphony's brass peroration, where Copland finally unleashes the Fanfare for the Common Man theme in full dress, was a shiver-up-the-spine moment with the whole brass section on their feet to send it soaring around the hall. In truth it's not a great symphony, the famous tune has too much thematic work to do, but this splendidly big-hearted performance almost convinced one that it was.
There were more than a hundred players occupying every inch of the platform – you could warm your hands on the radiated creative energy. An encore would surely be an anti-climax but no: Prieto let his young players off the leash for Ginastera's Malambo, a giddy four-minute musical saturnalia of dancing, stamping and instrument twirling. These kids can party!
As part of this "Voice of the Americas" concert Xiayin Wang was the soloist in Gershwin's Piano Concerto and she was equally effective in the fast toccata passages, incorporating the composer's souped-up charleston style, and the moody blue-note Adagio which featured lovely laid-back playing from principal trumpet Holly Clark. Two colourful short works by Mexican composers, Ruvueltas's Sensemayá and Chavez's Sinfonia India were energetically delivered (tireless strings) with the huge percussion section in thrilling form. In the finale of Chavez's symphony it sounded as if the mountains of the Sierra Madre were dancing.
Norman Stinchcombe

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