Archive for October 14, 2007

Martinu in Piccadilly

October 14, 2007

(‘I hope you’re going to give this a nice write-up on your blog’… Yes, Nick!)

Martinů is a tough nut to crack even for a professional orchestra.  So all credit to Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra, and their fearless conductor Peter Stark, for pulling it off not once but twice.

Last night’s concert at St James, Piccadilly, opened with a rarity, Martinů’s vaguely neoclassical short Overture of 1953.  It was energetic, precise and exciting, though with some slightly scrabbly strings in places.  Fine oboe solo in the middle section (and I’m not just saying that to please Nick Theobald).

Then the Rhapsody Concerto for viola, also from 1953, full of that weird plagal cadence that appears in all his late works (something to do with Martinů’s bump on the head – that’s a story for another time).  (For the harmonically minded, imagine F13 – an F7 chord with a D on top – going to C major.  Lifts the harmony up in a uniquely inspirational way.)  Soloist was none other than Paul Silverthorne, who has made the piece very much his own (and is preparing a definitive new edition of it).  Big generous tone, lovely playing, and Peter Stark had the orchestra swinging behind him in Martinů’s extremely tricky rhythms.  It’s a smashing piece too – if somewhat formless (well, ‘rhapsodic’) as Martinů tends to be:  only two movements, leave ’em wanting more…

(The concert nearly didn’t happen (more…)

Advertisements