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Wednesday, June 26, 2024



Although all from the same era, there was plenty of interesting differences in the three works to make absorbing listening. (Review by Barbara Trofimczyk)


Conductor:  Brandon Phillips

Soloist: Jan Bartos (Piano)



Haydn’s Symphony No 59 (Fire) in A Major

Mozart’s Concerto No 12, K414 in A Major

Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in C minor


It was an all “classical” programme for the first concert of the winter season presenting music by the three 18th century “greats”, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Although all from the same era, there was plenty of interesting differences in the three works to make absorbing listening.

With over 100 symphonies composed, Haydn, the youngest of the three composers, became known as the Father of the Symphony. Being in permanent employ for most of his life he had ample opportunity to write and perform regularly, and to experiment with varying creative ideas. The Fire Symphony is an early work and illustrates much of the classical traits of the time such as simpler homophonic textures, repeated themes in alternating dynamics, and orchestration that focuses on the strings, punctuated here and there with colourful woodwind interjections and delightful French-Horn effects. Lovely performance by the orchestra!

Mozart’s Concerto K414 illustrates a further development of the classical style with more varied, imitative textures in which the woodwinds play a greater role. The emphasis in this concerto is on the lyrical melodic patterns tossed between soloist and orchestra all skilfully connected by passages of animated scales which provide the soloist with opportunities for virtuoso display. The sunny lyrical character of this concerto and clarity of performance was beautifully captured by pianist Jan Bartos.

Beethoven’s 5th symphony, after interval, saw a distinctive transformation in the orchestra from the chamber-like quality of the first two works, to a much fuller symphonic sound with the addition of brass instruments and more woodwinds.

It was a fine performance of this well-loved work with the conductor, Brandon Phillips in full control. The tempi he chose were perfect throughout, illustrating the amazing thematic development of the famous opening four note motif, and its gradual growth and transformation towards the grand climax in the finale. He maintained a good balance between the various instrumental groups, but in the final bars, the strings would have welcomed a few more players as it required some rather forced bowing for them to match the grand orchestral tutti climax. It was a fine performance and the audience demonstrated their enjoyment with a standing ovation. - Barbara Trofimczyk

There are three more concerts to this season, taking place on Thursday in the Playhouse Opera at 19h00.

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