Orchestra of the Swan review


Royal Birmingham Conservatoire *****
For a multitude of reasons the final concert of the Orchestra of the Swan's current season at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire was a heartening affair.
The orchestra has never sounded on better form, the strings rich and full, taking full advantage of the Bradshaw Hall's encouraging acoustic, the winds eloquently-toned, brass and timpani a presence strong but never strident.
And it was good to welcome back Andrew Griffiths as conductor, modest but communicative on the podium, and sharing a relationship of joyful enthusiasm with the players.
Griffiths and OOTS proved wonderful collaborators in piano concertos played by two young prizewinners, both of them showing immense promise. Domonkos Csabay, 2018 RBC Prize Winner, gave us Mozart's delicious A major Concerto, K 414, pearly in articulation, phrasing affectionate without being cloying, and gently expressive in the Andante middle movement.
His encore, La ci Darem la Mano (in Liszt's arrangement?) was perfectly suited to the occasion.
Luke Jones, prizewinner at Bromsgrove last year, was soloist in Beethoven's Third Concerto, subtle changes in colouring and phrasing allowing the music to breathe naturally, his pianism clear and well-shaped, and with lovely unison hands in the first movement's development section. In a spirited, pointed finale it was exhilarating how pianist met orchestra at the tops of runs, and Chopin's "Waterfall" Study released impressive virtuosity as an encore.
Also heartening was OOTS' committed and persuasive reading of Green, composed by Thea Musgrave in 2008, its flowing lines gorgeously lyrical with plenty of incident along the way, and a perfect example of the expressive resourcefulness of tonality -- an element sadly lacking in today's "squeaky-gate" style of music.
Christopher Morley

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