News and Reviews
Review: Sinfonia Viva with Natalie Clein, cello
Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham - Tuesday 2nd November 2010
Sinfonia Viva is justly famed for the lightness and transparency the orchestra brings to classical composers like Mozart and Haydn. And these same qualities also shone through in their programme of music from the first half of the twentieth century.
For his ballet Pulcinella Stravinsky went back to the 18th century, to the music of Giovanni Pergolesi, borrowing tunes but seeing them through modern eyes. The result? One of the wittiest and frothiest concoctions in the repertoire. Sinfonia Viva made the most of the work's brilliant scoring, relishing unusual instrumental combinations like trombone and double bass. Conductor Andé de Ridder carefully nurtured a sound that managed to be characteristic of both Stravinsky and Pergolesi at the same time.
Samuel Barber's Cello Concerto is a concert hall rarity but soloist Natalie Clein made a strong case for it. The slow movement was particularly memorable for the way that Clein passed the sad and romantically tender melodies backwards and forwards between cello and orchestra in a set of free variations. There was plenty of brilliance in the more showy outer movements, the brief cadenzas being particularly eloquent.
As generous and delightful encores she played a Bach Prelude and Casals' Song of the Birds.
If Sibelius conjures up ideas of craggy romantic grandeur, then the 3rd Symphony makes you think again. Its classical clarity and lightness of touch make it an ideal work for Sinfonia Viva. Players and conductors were at one in their grasp of its textures and rhythms. The opening movement had total resoluteness of purpose; the slow movement's gracious, willowy melody managed to suggest melancholy under its smiling exterior; the finale ended in a blaze of confidence and grandeur.
Once again, Sinfonia Viva proved that what they lack in numbers, they more than make up for in precision and insight.
Review by William Ruff for Nottingham Post.