Royal Northern Sinfonia’s latest concert at Sage Gateshead was directed by violinist Kyra Humphreys, who opened proceedings with a magnificently moulded rendition of Barber’s Adagio for Strings …….
When not playing his clarinet, Timothy Orpen enjoys mountain climbing, having scaled peaks of 6000m in the Himalayas and Bolivian Andes. His latest onstage challenge saw him taking on one of the pinnacles for his instrument in the shape of Copland’s Clarinet Concerto.
Indeed, so tricky are some parts that Copland famously scribbled “too difficult for Benny Goodman” on the manuscript page of his first version of the coda, after the celebrated jazz musician for whom he was writing it asked for revisions. Even then it took Goodman two years to pluck up the courage to play it.
Orpen’s approach was both fearless and direct. The melancholic opening section was conveyed with heartfelt conviction, with sensitive backing from the orchestra.
Orpen displayed dazzling dexterity in the Cadenza, making light work of the jazzy inflexions.
The second movement, marked Rather fast, was given added percussive drive by harpist Rhian Evans, double bass Sian Hicks and pianist John Alley. Orpen, the orchestra and audience alike enjoyed every moment.
The evening was rounded off with a polished rendition of Mozart’s Symphony 29, which featured a lovely interplay between the strings in the slow movement and energetic dash throughout the finale.