Review: Southbank Sinfonia

Category: Music, General, Events

It is always a pleasure to hear the sound of a young orchestra, full of youthful musicianship and integrity, passion and pride of place. Southbank Sinfonia, conducted by Simon Over produced a wonderfully balanced programme complemented by sensitive playing, expression, and a great sense of musical perspective.

The first two chords of the Brahms Tragic Overture are instantly recognisable, after which the rumbling timpani proclaim the instability that underlines much of this piece. The opening was full of controlled agitation, giving way to transitional phrases led by the trombones in a measured and understated mellow timbre. Simon Over controlled the colours expertly in the second theme in which the tonality changes constantly from major to minor. After the development section, the recapitulation begins with the placement of the strong opening two chords once more, leading to a long coda, and closing with a sense of sombre sobriety.

Bruch’s Concerto for Clarinet and Viola contained rich, lyrical musical lines which were drawn out by the orchestra, delicately accompanying the two soloists. Bruch favoured these two instruments, especially in partnership (he wrote a further series of eight pieces for viola, clarinet, and piano), and what better partnership to play these instruments than Sacha Rattle and our own Philip Dukes. The soloist’s interaction with each other, the orchestra, conductor, and the music brought a beautiful sense of poignant placement and sincerity. Each movement left one with an overwhelming sense of gratification and equanimity.

The concert was concluded by a robust and refreshing performance of Dvorák’s Symphony No. 6 in D major. The first movement was a statement in itself, with the full resources of the orchestra combining to produce a fantastic sound. The violins dominated the second movement, with a wonderful melody, which is then fragmented and sung by different instruments. The third movement was furious in character, but never uncontrolled. The woodwind had a great prominence in this movement, with articulated timpani entries bringing another dimension to the sound. The final movement concluded in a lively fugato, with each entry eminently rising through the texture, finishing with a bold chorale.

Adam Staines

Graduate Music Assistant & Trainee Teacher

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