At the close of this important season which re-established and re-connected our community and our beautiful concert series (whilst celebrating 80 years of existence as a happy coincidence), we were rewarded with another sumptuous and glorious performance from Marlborough College’s professional orchestra in partnership, London’s Southbank Sinfonia. The programme was all Vaughan Williams (a second celebration), this time commemorating 150 years since the composer’s birth in 1872.
The Southbank Sinfonia’s Music Director Simon remarked more than once in his introductions that “the music of Vaughan Williams doesn’t perhaps ‘travel’ as it should,” but whilst that might be true, what is undeniable is the emotional impact that is created on any journey of a Vaughan Williams discovery.
The programme opened with the engaging Wasps Overture (surely more than a hint of Ravel?) which was followed by Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis. I have been fortunate enough to have performed this work a number of times in my career and, whilst it is a magnificently atmospheric and hugely romantic work, it is particularly challenging and exposed for the solo quartet. One couldn’t fault the quality of the soloists in this performance: leader Eugene Lee was simply exquisite in his delivery of the final phrases of this heartfelt work.
Vaughan William’s Symphony No 5 followed after the interval and allowed the full compliment of the Southbank Sinfonia to flex its musical muscles with some particularly persuasive interaction from the woodwind and brass. Simon Over also coaxed some sumptuous lyrical legato sounds from the whole orchestra (particularly in the slow movement) which ensured that the closure of the 80th season of MCCS ended on a fabulous high.
We may have had a most frustrating hiatus of late, but we are back – and in some style too. A third celebration indeed.