Leamington Chamber Orchestra
All Saints Church
ON a day which couldn’t seem to decide whether it would turn out brilliantly sunny or windy and rainy it was fitting that the LCO should present its most varied programme to date.
Mixed colour palettes, varied tempi and a full range of orchestral options made this an intriguing, if a little unsettling, offering.
The LCO has kept faith with the notion of Sunday afternoon concerts and perhaps it’s the earlier timing or the plentiful tea and cakes that makes these performances less formal than evening presentations and, in many ways, all the more fun for that.
Rossini’s cascading overture to the Barber of Seville began the programme at a pace slightly slower than might have been expected but in warming the orchestra up it fully served its purpose.
Haydn’s symphonies, once better known for their sheer number and occasional novelty content rather than their lasting musicality, have been making a return to concert programming and audience favour.
This sprightly and pleasingly controlled reading of Haydn’s Symphony 49 should open up the possibility of further appearances in future concerts. As the conductor Richard Laing pointed out it is music which requires perfect precision and here, particularly in the brass, there is still work to be done. Too many imprecise notes and below-par intonation threatened to spoil the overall success.
But this will be concert remembered principally for a fabulous, no holds barred romp through Tchaikovsky’s romantic Violin Concerto led by soloist Eleanor Robson. Making full use of the church’s fine reverb acoustic she alternated moments of technical mastery with some beautiful drawn out tones – the full solo run-through we were treated to in the interval clearly paying dividends.
The monumental first movement with its towering cadenza was faultless and will provide ammunition to those who’d love to see the convention of not applauding between movements scrapped. The slow movement was sublime with the LCO showing commendable control and balance in a supporting role. The final movement – so often almost a race to get to the end – had more content and conversation to it than many performances I’ve heard.
Only one thing detracted from this superb performance and that was an occasional imbalance in the volume between the orchestra and soloist. The sound travels well at All Saints but it is certainly time to try elevating the soloist by a foot or so to allow more of the sound to travel beyond the first few rows of a flat auditorium. Sound and sight would both be improved.