Message from Arturo July 26th 2021
After a pandemic, two lockdowns, a night of thunderstorms before the concert and a yellow alert of floods, our first concert finally took place. The truth is that I couldn’t have wished for a better outcome. The lockdowns may deceive those who don’t know the ESO to think that they had a break from playing; far from it. We did many online rehearsals and play-throughs. The lockdown gave us all the opportunity to see music from a different angle. We had the chance of exploring a wide range of pieces apart from the ones performed at Poltimore. Such as Tchaikovsky’ 2nd Symphony, Mahler 1st Symphony and a small fragment from Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The orchestra was at the top of their game once we returned to playing. Because of the social distancing rules, we had to rehearse the woodwind and brass separated from the strings in staggered weeks. Again, the circumstances provided us with the chance of polishing the pieces in great detail. Once the full orchestra was together, the sound was heavenly. The rehearsals progressed very efficiently as everyone was so well prepared after such an intense period of detailed work during the online playthroughs and sectional rehearsals.
At the concert, the orchestra offered such a memorable performance.Brahms’s Overture Tragic was played with stunning volcanic energy, perfect clarity, huge confidence; every voice, colour and nuance came through convincingly.
Grieg’s Peer Gynt was performed with even more confidence. I could tell that the orchestra knew the piece from performing it in the past. There were magical moments in the first and second movements. However, the great favourite especially between children was the 4th movement (In the Hall of the Mountain King). Here the orchestra built the climax by developing the speed and the sound in an organic and seamless way. The coordination was perfect.
Elgar theme and variations I, VII and IX from the famous Enigma Variations were played with the utmost beautiful refinement and pronounced dynamic contrast. The great triumph in the theme, variations I and IX was the quality that emanated from the violins and violas lower strings and the formidable support from the lower strings. The fiendish Troyte (variation VII) was performed perfectly together, with vigorous energy and impressive virtuosity.
Finlandia by Jean Sibelius was where things got serious. The orchestra completely changed its sound and masterfully conveyed the contemplative feeling of the Finnish landscape and love for freedom contained in the piece. The sforzandos played by the brass and percussion at the beginning of the piece were mesmerising and immediately grabbed the attention of the audience, setting the atmosphere for the piece to unfold.
The last piece was the all-time favourite Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance No 1 in D Major. There was no better way of ending the concert than with such an optimistic, positive and lovely piece that the orchestra performed with enthusiasm and joy!
Personally, I was so happy to finally do my first concert as the new conductor of the Exeter Symphony Orchestra. I am thankful and privileged to work with such fine musicians, in such a positive organisation. I look very much forward to many memorable concerts together! Arturo.
Last time:- A great, successful and happy 2020 - Very best wishes to you all and your new conductor in all that you play and do - might pop in occasionally to the odd concert....? Brian
One final message:
I was just so proud of you all on Saturday! Your playing was superb and the keeping together in the Elgar was very sure and tempi well varied as needed throughout overall. However - what can I say about the Bax except you rose to the challenges; played with great colour and confidence, and you hadnt played it as well as that till the event. It kept improving, and saturday was the pinnacle of your dedication to the challenges. Just extremely passionate, varied, and with so much accuracy - be very proud of yourselves indeed. I am just so so sorry to be leaving you all. Do keep in touch if you want to - and thank you - thank you all again for a marvellous 15 years. All continued success. Brian
I couldn't have wished for a more supportive, moving, beautifully crafted and communicative performance than I had from all of you last night. Gerontius is such a powerful work, and once again you were all totally committed and full of great orchestral colour and flexibility. Responses to the very occasional problem moments were rapid and healing, and you all did yourselves so proud. Thank you - it is such a joy to work with you all. A big thank you too to all of you for your compliments and reactions too. Brian
Just to repeat myself - see below [last concert's comments!] - Thank you all for such a great concert last night. Already en route for Jordan but just wanted to catch a quick moment to say how proud I was of you all and how well you had worked to get all that music together, especially with the cathedral evensong as well. Feedback was very enthusiastic from all I spoke to - I will add more once I am settled in Amman in Jordan.
Just some further thoughts now to catch up with you all. First a lovely quote from the email our vice president Felicity Cawthra sent to me :- "You must be over the moon after last night's concert. Lovely programme, with the orchestra obviously enjoying it."
I am so pleased also that I suggested to Ross that since the concerto was quite short that he bring an encore - what an amazing surprise and pleasure that was! I totally concur with Felicity - I was 'over the moon' - and there was so much effort and colour in all your playing; so much attention to detail, and particularly good comments were made over the strong and expressive string playing. I could go on but will just add that it is also a great pleasure to see how well Clare has continued to develop as our leader. I so look forward to being with you all again in January. Have a really good Christmas and break. Brian
Thankyou all for such a lovely concert last night. You can be proud of yourselves, and we did manage so many of those great dynamic contrasts!!
I just wanted to share Myles thoughts with you in the witty little piece he sent to me this morning :-
Gorging on my jalfrezi after last night's concert was as nothing compared to the joy of the Sea Symphony in the autumn concert - just the thought of whose rich lyrical tones make me well up as only freshest of cut onions in this particular dish can do.
Our return to Brahms - a well known Hamburger- in the spring was stupendous - more like a rich slow-cooked beef stew than double with cheese. As an appetiser though, can we really forgive Stokowski for taking all the ingredients of the Toccata and Fugue and making a complete dog's dinner of it?
But last night's potpourri was equally entertaining if a little hot. Thankfully the swedes were off the menu. Brian took precautions to finish his first course earlier than most fearing that the food would repeat on him in Where Eagles Dare. In contrast our ukulele player started the last course of his meal before all were served - a sure recipe for indigestion. Rounding things off like a sorbet in summer was the palate-cleansing Holst - a seemingly light desert but sprinkled with darker flavours in the Elegy to remind us that a second on the lips can result in several banana splits - especially if the chef brings the last course in before diners have had chance to swallow the previous.
So it only remains to say just how much fun it has been. You make a great team and I really do appreciate what you all bring to the ESO table.
Now it is time for a diet before the next season begins so that when Elgar's dream of chateaubriand is served next year I can relish all its fine flavours.
Lots of love to you all - Myles
Just a thought about last term's concert. Spring 2018
I did so enjoy conducting you all on saturday - the thought quite simply is that everyone was so on the ball, and any slight moment was quickly and easily responded to and/or rectified overall. Well done to all of you and thank you again. Brian
Clare is happy for me to add her main comments here:-
- 'I just wanted to say a huge 'well done' for a fantastic concert on Saturday. I heard some lovely feedback, including comments such as 'a lovely rich sound', 'excellent string playing' (sorry, had to put that one in) and people really liked the Nielsen, thought it had drama. The Mozart was very well received, people thought the soloists were excellent, sensitively accompanied by the orchestra. Sarah, who was listening at the back, said the Brahms was really good and she was impressed! All in all, another very successful concert. Many thanks to Sarah and Adrian!
Apologies for not adding this lovely comment from Felicity Cawthra - our president:-
' The concert on Saturday was absolutely superb. I loved every item and the orchestra's playing was wonderful. They all looked confident and happy and the length of the programme was just right. A lot of hard work over years. Well done you.'
Fantasy Ouverture - Nielsen here, so click on this link .
Thankyou - I never cease to find music with you all a great joy in my life.
November 2017 - 'A Sea Symphony" - Well done indeed to you all last night, and once again the level of colour, contrast and musicality is becoming a real joy - small slips are almost irrelevant - and what is so good for my part is a real feeling that we are creating performances so well together.
A little message from Laurence - 'Please can you pass my thanks onto the rest of the orchestra for being so wonderful (and so patient over the weeks) - they sounded absolutely fabulous (I’m also now a Bax convert!)'
VIEWS ON THE JULY 8TH WALLFISCH CONCERT ARE ON THE MEMBERS PAGE. BRIAN
Please go to the members page for some lovely views and thoughts on last July's fine music in the Cathedal.
Exeter Symphony Orchestra Facebook page is now up and running - open to all www.facebook.com/ExeterSymphonyOrchestra . Feel free to contribute and invite your friends and don't forget to tick 'like' - if you dont ' like' let me know!!. Alison Northcott.
There is also a new Twitter page - with much feedback from our concerts. Again, please do feel free to contribute - @Exeter_Symphony