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This performance was thrilling

Bachtrack, Phil Parker
Four Stars

… It was, truthfully, a remarkable concert that will live long in the memory, notably for the performance of the film score Saint-Saëns wrote for L’assassinat du duc de Guise, played to accompany a screening.

… The 13 players crammed onto the Crucible Playhouse’s postage stamp of a stage under the expert baton of local conductor George Morton played with gusto and synchronised precision.

That would have been the star turn of the evening were it not for what followed, the “imperishable jewel” (Isserlis’ words) that is The Carnival of the Animals…

“This performance was thrilling, every musician having a turn or two in the spotlight in superbly characterised vignettes.”

It seems unfair to single out some for special mention, but Benjamin Nabarro and Claudia Ajmone Marsan were wonderfully mournful as a pair of Characters with Long Ears, and guest double bass player Philip Nelson delivered a compellingly and comically deadpan solo in The Elephant, transfiguring Berlioz’ Dance of the Sylphs in the process. And in case the work should seem merely superficial, Gemma Rosefield imbued the cello melody in The Swan with reverence.

… horn player Naomi Atherton and pianist Tim Horton breezed through the colourful changes of mood in the Morceau de Concert, before guest bassoonist Ursula Leveaux made a powerful case for Saint-Saëns’ very late Bassoon Sonata in G major… Leveaux was flighty and playful in the Allegro scherzando middle movement, and then profound and, one might claim, philosophical in the Molto adagio opening to the finale…

Photo: Matthew Johnson, The Arts Desk, Music in the Round

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