News and Reviews
Review: Sinfonia Viva with Antje Weithaas, violin
Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham - Wednesday 28th March 2012
André de Ridder stepped down from his position as Sinfonia Viva's Principal Conductor after an evening that saw his partnership with the orchestra on peak form.
However many performances of Handel's Zadok the Priest we're going to have to listen to in this royal jubilee year, there won't be many to equal the vitality of this one. Nottingham Harmonic Society's singing went for vigour and excitement rather than monumentality, and was all the better for it.
De Ridder then took a back seat, as soloist Antje Weithaas directed JS Bach's Violin Concerto in E – an invigorating account, with the fast outer movements fresh and light on their feet, and the middle movement beautifully poised.
Ian Vine's thirty-five objects is the last of Viva's Orchestral Shorts – ten three- to four-minute pieces commissioned over the last five years. It was a fascinating end to the series: calm and meditative with its multiple permutations of a single idea.
Beethoven's 'Eroica' Symphony got as gripping a performance as I've heard, lean and athletic, with clean colours and textures (violins divided left and right, which always helps). The funeral march rose to a peak of scorching intensity, while the scherzo was boisterously exuberant. I don’t think I've ever heard the three horns in the trio section sounding quite so much like a force of nature, straight out of the Vienna woods.
The After Hours late-night concert that followed was built round Berg's Violin Concerto, performed in the very effective reduced instrumentation by Andreas Tarkmann. Nottingham Harmonic Society returned, with their Music Director Richard Laing, leading us up to the Berg with warm, committed performances of Brahms's Geistliches Lied, Eric Whitacre's Lux Aurumque, and JS Bach's harmonisation of the chorale Es Ist Genug, quoted by Berg at the end of the concerto. Antje Weithaas, again, was the soloist in the concerto itself, in a reading that was both poised and impassioned, the two held in perfect balance.
In a presentation after the main concert Viva's Chief Executive Peter Helps and Royal Concert Hall Music Programme Manager Neil Bennison paid tribute to André de Ridder's years at the orchestra's helm, not least his innovative programming ideas, including the Orchestral Shorts series and the After Hours concerts, and the new soloists he has introduced to the orchestra (Antje Weithaas among them).
It's been an exciting five years. Let's hope we see him back from time to time.
Review by Mike Wheeler