Warrington Pyramid Hall, 7th May 2011.
I rarely come away from these concerts without wanting to look up some newly discovered piece of music, or composer, but hadn’t expected to on this occasion. “A Night at the Theatre” comprised music by Bernstein, Wagner, Puccini, Fucik, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner & Loewe, Bock & Harnick and Sondheim & Wheeler and a composer I’d heard the name of frequently, but was new to his music – Aulis Sallinen. His “Palace Rhapsody” of 1996, in this arrangement for wind orchestra, was wonderfully moody and evocative and even had echoes of the composers he was placed between on this bill – Bernstein and Wagner – as well as Sibelian hommages. A dark solo for bass clarinet stood out, as did the Wild West and military passages. So, Sallinen has been added to my “must explore” list.
The overture to “Candide” kicked things off splendidly, causing much furrowing of the brows from the players as the bars flew past, whilst the sombre procession of Siegried’s Funeral March tested the patience – and counting! – of the brass section. A lovely oboe solo sang out amidst the grief and the full band rose wonderfully in the tuttis. After such bleakness it was a relief that the suite from La Boheme did not include music from the final act! (Wonderful solos, though, from the principle oboe, trumpet and flute)
After the break it was musicals all the way: Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof and Sweeney Todd were presented in chronological sequence and played with obvious enjoyment and flair – the young percussion section having a great time!
So, now to look forward to their next concert on July 2nd, when the theme is “War and Peace”. Can the walls of the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale contain their powerful “Mars”, from the Planets? Only just, perhaps.