21st April 2005
“Woodland to the New World”
MENDELSSOHN – From the outset the players portrayed the feeling of wave movement and restlessness. The irregular drum rolls depicting the stronger waves, with the brass and woodwind imitating gusts of wind and the cries of seagulls, painted a graphic picture for an appreciative audience. We were off to a good start despite temperamental house lights.
MACDOWELL – I and, dare I say it, quite a few in the audience, knew very little of MacDowell’s work prior to this evening, excepting To a Wild Rose, that is. This is a shame, because there is much to enjoy in these sketches and we should thank Emma Kent for bringing them to our attention. The descriptive From an Indian Lodge, in particular, gave a great illustration of its subject, especially when the trombones entered the scene. A Deserted Farm allowed the orchestra to produce a truly eerie feeling of loneliness. Indeed, all eight ‘Woodland Sketches’ benefited from clever interpretation. I for one will pay more attention to this composer in future.
DVORAK – Mention the New World symphony and immediately we think of that beautiful second movement and its famous Goin’ Home melody. But we shouldn’t forget those lovely bits of ragtime between the timpani, flutes and oboes of the first movement. Neither should we overlook the cute Three Blind Mice motif just before the return of Goin’ Home in the fourth. However, pride of place must go to that second movement, where the wistful tune was impeccably played by the solo cor anglais, accompanied by an orchestra who so obviously enjoy their work and who gave us so much pleasure as a result. North Devon Sinfonia’s fame is spreading. There were many more of us at this concert than at the first under this conductor. It was worth experiencing West Buckland’s chilly wind for this fine concert.
North Devon Journal ‘Seven Days’, 21st April 2005
“Music at a superb standard"
Tonight's concert by the North Devon Sinfonia saw the debut of its new conductor, Emma Kent.
The programme was beautifully balanced: Beethoven's Egmont Overture, followed by Copland's Appalachian Spring and, after an interval, Schubert's Symphony No. 8 (The Unfinished).
The dramatic start to the overture was taken at a 'good lick', and the orchestra soon got into their stride. The violins were impressively steady, and the horns played in perfect synchrony. The timpanist was kept busy and played with great panache - praiseworthy indeed, as his 'usual' instrument is the saxophone! The strings produced a wonderfully energetic finale.
It was lovely to hear the Copland in its original form, rather than the usual expansive piece for huge orchestra. The evocative opening was magical, and the conversation between the flute, clarinet and bassoon finely balanced. The piano really came into its own, and kept the piece moving along. After some super jazz and 'hoe down' rhythms, the orchestra brought this challenging piece to a tranquil close.
The 'cellos opened the Schubert with a rich, full sound, and were later ably supported by the sensitive playing of the woodwind section and marvellous timing and intonation of the brass. The dynamics were lively and made for exciting listening. The orchestra seemed to relax into the second movement and played with such momentum and enjoyment: the balance was perfect and the piece flowed to its (unfinished) conclusion in great harmony.
Tonight's concert was a great success - music at a superb standard, excellent programme notes/biographies, interval refreshments. Above all, the orchestra seemed to be enjoying themselves. The audience certainly did.
This orchestra is going places. Emma Kent is taking it. She is 'a natural', and North Devon is lucky to have her. Watch this space.
Two Moors Committee