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Review: Sinfonia Viva with Natalie Clein, cello plus After:HOURS concert
Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham - Tuesday 2nd November 2010
Juxtaposing the suite from Stravinsky's Pulcinella (the cradle of his neo-classical style) and Sibelius's Third Symphony, Sinfonia Viva and Principal Conductor André de Rider not only offered a piquant study in contrasts but highlighted the degree to which Sibelius's taut masterpiece itself represents something of a neo-classical outlook, albeit of a Beethovenian rather than a mid eighteenth-century kind.
The Stravinsky performance was bright and tangy, but with plenty of expressive warmth, too. The Tarantella, in particular, was full of springy balletic vigour, the grace and elegance of the Gavotte was subverted by just the right amount of street-theatre vulgarity in the trombone/bass duo of the Vivo that followed.
The fresh, energised account of the Sibelius preserved a sense of mystery at the music's heart while still keeping it on a tight rein and building an impressive sense of momentum; the broad sweep of the finale was particularly compelling.
Natalie Clein was the eloquent soloist in a performance of Barber's Cello Concerto that balanced incisive energy and strong, singing lines. The dark-toned second movement was powerfully shaped, the broad climax given the appropriate degree of weight.
The After Hours concert following the main event began with André de Ridder directing a deliciously crisp reading of Stravinsky's Octet. I don't remember hearing the various dance characteristics of the individual variations in the second movement brought out so clearly before, and the finale bubbled away merrily.
Natalie Clein returned to give a performance of Bach's G minor Cello Suite that expertly balanced the dance element with the contemplative, particularly in a searching account of the Sarabande.
Sadly, I was not able to stay for the new work by Viva's Composer in the House, Anna Meredith, an Octet scored for the same line-up as Stravinsky's.
Review by Mike Wheeler